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 is one of the questions asked on our survey and the artist’s response.
Why is Art Education today?
Art allows young students and students in general to be versatile in multifaceted and have an understanding for cultural experiences. It incorporates cognitive skills with hands-on applications. The way art is taught now occurs in both 2-D and 3-D and virtual environments. This range of experiences along with cultural connections is imperative for young students high school and college age students to become more sensitive and responsive to social and environmental shifts.
Our urban and geographic environment is in a constant state of transformation. My work explores states of change between order and chaos that relate to this experience of environmental shift. Painting and Installation Art are modes of communicating the sensitivity to environmental factors; these practices provide me with a cadence and context through which to communicate utopian elegance, or dystopian plight. Installation explores this order/chaos in theory by invoking parts of abstraction, architecture, landscape, natural disaster, and a tactile response image making. Paintings are a meditation on movement, permutation, gesture, boundary, space and color.
In 2014, I started a series of work titled, Solid Movement. Solid Movement is an investigation into gesture and its ability to encapsulate time and psyche, fuse internal and external, and record conceptual state changes in solidified form. This series struggles to define beauty, exploring abstraction as incident and artifact of the process in which paint is applied. There is a constant struggle between surface and ground; between paint and the boundaries within the painting. This series of work attempts to unify my sculptural endeavors with my interests in painting.
Over the past six years I have explored site-specific installation. The installations built encompass three-dimensional landscapes frozen in the midst of a chaotic event. This “event” is reminiscent of a landscape that has been caught in a fictitious disaster. By incorporating drawing and painting with objects and found materials, this ignites play between the structure of the gallery and the theatrics of the painterly gesture and their united associations. This sense of theater is a formal extension of the shadows cast by gallery lights, the configuration of the wall, ceiling, and the intrinsic architectural nature of the given space.
Overall, my work explores space; both physical and psychological space. This refers to “Space” as it is applied to a two dimensional surface, or a three dimensional location.
Jenniffer Omaitz (1979, Cleveland, OH) lives in Kent, OH and works in Kent and Cleveland. She holds an MFA in painting from Kent State University and a BFA in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at The Sculpture Center, Cleveland; Sandy Carson Gallery, Denver; and Kent State University, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Her work was featured at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas in Denver. Omaitz is a part-time faculty member at Kent State University, and the University of Akron. She is represented by 1point618 Gallery in Cleveland.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.