Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meg Ojala - Photographer

Meg Ojala

Name:  Meg Ojala
City/State: Dundas, Minnesota
I was born in International Falls, Minnesota. Rainy Lake was my first home. I lived in Northfield, Minnesota until I graduated from high school. I received my B.A. from the University of Minnesota and M.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After working for a short while in Chicago in the field of bookbinding and conservation I came back to Minnesota and I have been teaching photography at St. Olaf College and making photographs for more than 30 years.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I’ve been making landscape photographs for many years. I often make pictures along the Cannon River near my home and studio. I like to photograph the transitional times, as the seasons are changing. Recently I made pictures with very different subject matter, at my brother’s factory. The body of work is called, “The Plant”. I have always loved the textures and layers of marks and planes at the plant. It is a rich source of found drawings and found sculpture. I also wanted to make pictures of a very particular place that has significance for the people who work there, my family, and me. These photographs reflect interests in common with my landscape work, such as the ambiguous illusion of space and a sense of time that is compressed and transitory. It is very different in subject matter but I think there is continuity with earlier work.

I’m showing a few pictures from a newer project at Groveland Gallery, opening on March 8. The pictures were taken at a site near my home where asphalt and concrete and other rubble has been dumped and grown into a small man-made mountain. I have been there several times to take pictures and will continue working there and continue trying to figure out the best way to show a bigger body of work from the site. The pictures are metaphors for our catastrophic impact on this world and refer to the theory of catastrophism.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I didn’t decide all at once. It’s been a gradual process. I’ve always loved making things and when I was a sophomore in college I decided to major in art because it was what I loved doing the most. Then I decided to go on to get an MFA in art, not because I thought it would make me employable, but because thinking about and making art was the way I wanted to spend my time. I had some good teachers and fellow students and colleagues who were models for me and helped me develop as an artist and then as a teacher. I discovered Agnes Martin’s writings when I was in graduate school and she has been one of my teachers, her work and thought a touchstone for me.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

I like Mary Oliver’s advice to poets. You must be “perfectly serious” and reliable to the cautious and mysterious part of the psyche that our conscious minds need to do creative work. The “responsible and purposeful” part of us must be sure to show up regularly and be attentive to the other part. What it means to me is that practice, discipline, attentiveness and openness are really important. You have to show up!

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I am very lucky to be represented by Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis. Sally Johnson and Nicole Watson sell my art. I am not a good promoter of my own work. I tell my students to do as I say, not as I do, when it comes to marketing and getting work out in the world.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?  

There are many. Just a few are:
Jil Evans painting:
Keith Taylor’s Dark Matter:
The work of my colleagues in the Department of Art and Art History at St. Olaf.

I love the art made by teens and young adults in the Art and Autism program in Northfield, MN. The A+ Art Club meets every week at the Northfield Arts Guild.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I look at work in all media, historical and contemporary.
I would take you to the Walker, the MIA, Franklin Art Works, Form and Content, , Groveland, , The Flaten Art Museum at St. Olaf College, and the Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton, .
Minnesota Center for Book Arts,
Highpoint Center for Printmaking,

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

I follow links to galleries from reviews and listings in the New York Times and The New Yorker.
I look at the New York Times Lens Blog.
I try to keep up on recent photography books at Photo Eye.

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I am in a group show at Groveland Gallery with Clara Ueland and Denise Presnell-Weidner that opens on Saturday, March 8 from 2 – 5 PM. Duncan Hannah and Ellen Heck are showing in the Annex. The show will be up through April 19.
Groveland Gallery - LAI Profile

Image List:
1.  The Plant #2, (painting), pigment print, 26 x 40 inches,2012
2.  The Plant #5, (unplug one at a time), pigment print, 24 x 36 inches, 2012
3.   The Plant #6, (worlds), pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2012
4. Catastrophe 2, pigment print, 8 x 8 inches, 2014
5. Catastrophe 97, pigment print, 20 x 30 inches, 2014
6. Catastrophe 84, pigment print, 12 x 18 inches, 2014

No comments: