I am extremely excited to be heading into Year 2 of the 3 year project, the Midwest Artist Studios™ (MAS) Project. I will be traveling from July 26 through August 1, 2015 to the following artists/cities/states – Mellissa Redman, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kate Robertson, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Jenniffer Omaitz, Kent, Ohio; Ellie Honl, Bloomington, Indiana; Jessica Anderson, Jacksonville, Illinois; and Jason Ackman, Rushville, Illinois. In mid-August I will be visiting the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry to document Emmy Lingscheit, who is one of our featured 2015 MAS artists and a current artist in resident. In late September, I will finish our documentation/research by visiting Krista Svalbonas, Chicago, Illinois and Emmy Lingscheit, Urbana, Illinois.
The artists selected were based on their responses to an online survey focusing on Art Education, body of work, and a Skype interview.
Throughout our visits I will be introducing you to 8 amazing and talented artists from the Midwest working in printmaking to painting, sculpture to mixed media and collage to installation art.
– Frank Juarez
Here are two of the questions asked on our survey and the artist’s response.
Please share one positive Art Education experience that you had in middle school, high school or college.
It is a challenge to narrow it down to just one! As the daughter of an art educator in Wisconsin, I know that I was privileged to attend public school at a time when art education was a valued and better-funded part of the curriculum. The first art education experience that I can remember had a profound affect on me, because it made me realize that my unique perspective was valued. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher showed us how to make a penguin from cutting and gluing together pieces of construction paper. Having just visited the Chicago zoo where I was mesmerized by the crazy “eyebrows” of rockhopper penguins, I used my leftover pieces of orange paper to create the unique feather plumage. When the teacher saw this addition, she showed my project to the class and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and validation.
Why is Art Education important today?
Art education is important today, because art teaches students valuable skills that most other subjects don’t. Because art never has one right answer, it empowers students to think for themselves and to consider all possibilities. Art nurtures creative problem solving, curiosity and flexibility, and encourages students to take risks and to embrace ambiguity. Art is a reflection of the culture in which it was created, so studying art has the potential to teach students about history, society, and the makers’ unique point of view. It also has the ability to teach students about themselves and how to express things that cannot be said with words alone. With a fast changing global economy, being able to find creative solutions to new problems will be very important. People that possess creative literacy, will have the skill set to find innovative solutions. Beyond the job market, learning how to create and appreciate visual aesthetics creates a better quality of life and improves society as a whole.
Ellie’s artwork is about the human desire to find stability in an unsteady present and unpredictable future. Through her artwork, she tries to understand why things are the way they are and strive to find logic in the random. She works intuitively allowing herself to experiment with unpredictable processes to discover new marks and imagery. Many times these initial investigations look chaotic and they provide a problem for her to resolve. She imposes order through geometric forms and color, while making connections through lines, written explanations, and collage elements. These acts of resolution are based on research into theories of geometry, psychology, space, and her own history. Through a multidisciplinary approach, she creates prints, objects, and moving images that oscillate between rational and irrational, organized and disordered. Printmaking’s unique ability to retain the original image helps her create variables that grow organically and allows her to combine and alter visual elements using a wide variety of media. This layering, warping, and re-presenting information reflects her research in how people make sense of the world around them.
Ellie Honl is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Printmaking at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Combining printmaking, time-based media, and alternative photographic processes, her artwork has been widely exhibited across the United States and is included in many national collections. She has been awarded residencies at Vermont Studio Center and the Kala Art Institute, and has been a visiting artist at numerous universities and art centers. She has previously taught at Arizona State University, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She received her MA and MFA in Printmaking with a minor in Intermedia from the University of Iowa where she graduated with honors, and received a BA in studio art from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Ellie is from Stevens Point, Wisconsin where her mother is an art teacher in the public school system.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.