A MAS Update: Jason Ackman

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The Midwest Artist Studios Project has spent the past three years traveling the Midwest interviewing 24 artists from 18 cities/towns. This project has been such a joy to create and to see how these artists have touched the lives of art students through online interactions, emails, and social media.

One of the areas we pride ourselves in is staying in touch with these artists and hearing what they are up to these days? For the next two-months the MAS Project will be spotlighting one of our 24 artists by sharing with you what they are doing in their studio as well as in their communities. 

All three of our MAS publications are now available online.

Click here to buy your copy today!

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Jason Ackman

2015 MAS artist from Illinois

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MAS: In what ways have you benefitted from your participation in MAS?

JA: I have personally benefited from my involvement with MAS in a variety of ways.  The project has introduced and connected me with a bunch of artists in my region of the US.  Artists that I would most likely not known about had I not been involved with the work of MAS (Thank you!).  

It has given me more opportunities to not only talk and share info about the work I do but the work of other outstanding and fascinating artists in the Midwest.  This is a welcomed change since often times it seems that “real artists” are located in the major cities in the US, specifically out west and east.  

I also believe it has given me a boost of confidence and encouragement knowing that a project like MAS is interested in telling some of my story as an artist.  Not only as an artist, but an artist from the part of our nation that is often times overlooked when it comes artists making meaningful, significant work. 

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MAS: In what ways has your work and/or working environment changed since your MAS interview?

JA: My studio work has drastically changed over the past year.  Shortly after the MAS team visited my studio I held my first solo exhibit.  Once that exhibit closed my studio practice took a major shift.  My practice has now become more about the social and community interaction with the arts.  I have spent very little time making work or objects that would be seen in an exhibit.  Instead, I have been focusing my energies on developing a local arts and cultural center as well as renovating a historic brick mansion (in a rural town of 150 people) into a future artist residency program. Although I have not been making work in the traditional sense, this new “work” has evolved into a practice of sorts.  The communal aspect of creating has become more of a focus for me. 

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MAS: What is one thing you wish you’d said in your original interview, or what is the one thing that you hope the MAS audience remembers about your and your work?

JA: There are so many things I would have liked to have said 🙂  I don’t even know where to begin. 

Visit Jason’s website to see more of his work. 

All images copyright of the artist and used with permission.

Midwest Artist Studios Project at the Wisconsin Art Education Association 2016 Conference

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Frank being interviewed for Artspeak Radio

Frank being interviewed for Artspeak Radio in Kansas City, KS. Photo by Fred Trease.

I am happy to announce that my Midwest Artist Studios Project proposal has been accepted to be part of the 2016 WAEA Fall Conference: Bold and Bright, in La Crosse, Wisconsin in October 2016. Also, the MAS Project is a proud sponsor of this state art education conference and will be onsite as an exhibitor. Our MAS Publication will be available for purchase. 

Get your copy today!

The mission of the Wisconsin Art Education Association is to promote excellence in visual art and design education for all students by:
•     providing professional growth opportunities for visual art and design teachers.
•     showcasing student talents and abilities supporting art and design as academic core disciplines.
•     communicating with other art and design organizations.
•     offering lifelong learning opportunities acting on vital art and design education issues. 
WAEA COver Brochure 2016
MAS Vendor WAEA Brochure 2016
MAS WAEA Brochure 2016

Ad layout: Erika L Block of Creative Studios

ARTSPEAK RADIO live with Midwest Artist Studios Project founder, Frank Juarez, MAS artists Joe Bussell and Larry Thomas

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Text and audio courtesy of Artspeak Radio. 

This interview was aired on August 17 at noon. 

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MAS artists, Larry Thomas and Joe Bussell — Photo courtesy of Maria Vasquez Boyd

Founder of Midwest Artist Studio (MAS) Frank Juarez joins Maria by phone with artsts/educators Joe Bussell, and Larry Thomas. 

Frank Juarez-Art Educator + Founder Midwest Artist Studios-MAS, “The project I designed is called the Midwest Artist Studios (MAS) Project. This project connects two areas-contemporary art and art education. The thought of traveling the Midwest and the idea of visiting studios was overwhelming. I knew I would not be able to do it alone so I was able to put together a team of art enthusiasts, Erika Block, writer, photographer Pat Ryan, and Jonathan Fritsch assistant.”

The Midwest Artist Studios™ Project is a three summer project established by a Wisconsin high school art educator, Frank Juarez. A team consisting of a photographer, writer, and assistant will travel the Midwest visiting contemporary visual artists who embrace the importance of Art Education, believe that their art experience was influenced or shaped by their K-12 Art Education and are following their artistic dream of art making. These visits will encompass a close and personal approach into the studio life of an artist. Artists will not only talk about their engagement in their art processes, but also discuss their rigorous work schedule, daily commitments, work ethic, artistic vision; to name a few.

After each summer the MAS Team will be creating a catalog and a curriculum workbook, which will contain lesson plans that compliment and reinforce the artists’ contemporary art practices. These lesson plans can be used to reinforce, supplement, or become an art curriculum for grades 6-12. A blog will house the MAS Team’s journey, behind the scenes footage, reflections, and photographs.

Our audience is very diverse just like this project. The Midwest Artist Studios™ Project will benefit anyone interested in Contemporary Art, Art Education, technology, social media, National Visual Arts Standards, and Literacy. We envision public, private art educators, home schools, core educators, IMC specialists, administration, districts, artists, professors and students utilizing this resource.

Artsts/educators from Kansas Joe Bussell and Larry Thomas, Karrie Dieken (North Dakota), Sharon Grey (South Dakota), Judy Boyer, Rachel Mindrup and Lori Elliott-Bartle (Nebraska), participated in the current MAS project.

Click the image to access interview

Click the image to access interview

Click here to hear the interview with Frank, Joe, and Larry. 

Final Thoughts from Frank Juarez: Year 3 MAS Project

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Photo taken in North St. Paul, MN during our first day of road trippin’ in 2014.

My last road trip through the Midwest concluded on July 17, 2016 at approximately 6:00pm (CST). This one was one of the best road trips I’ve had with quite a few challenges during the 2,800+ mile journey. To date I have traveled to 18 cities/towns in 12 states driving 5,000+ miles in the span of a one-week increment during the month of July in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

When the idea of the Midwest Artist Studios Project came about inside my art classroom at Sheboygan North High School back in February of 2014 I never imagined where this would take me as an art educator and how it would change my personal/professional life. I knew that this journey was ambitious so I was fortunate to have worked with such an amazing and dedicated team; Erika Block (writer/editor), Pat Ryan (photographer), and Jonathan Fritsch (assistant). They were there from the beginning to the end no matter how crazy this idea was. This is an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. I am truly blessed to have them in my life.

The MAS Project aims to connect art education with Midwest contemporary artists through studio visits, curriculum development, and opportunities for educator outreach. 

I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the following artists and arts professionals I met since 2014. 

  • MAS artist, Josh Wilichowski, North St. Paul, MN
  • MAS artist, Vincenzio Donatelle, Minneapolis, MN
  • MAS artist, Jane Ryder, Oskaloosa, IA
  • MAS artist, Jamie Bates Slone, Kansas City, MO
  • MAS artist, Catie Miller, Kansas City, MO
  • MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski, Milwaukee, WI
  • MAS artist, Josie Osborne, Milwaukee, WI
  • MAS artist, Paula Schulze, Shorewood, WI
  • MAS artist, Suzanne Torres, Madison, WI
  • MAS artist, Mellissa Redman, Grand Rapids, MI
  • MAS artist, Kate Robertson, Ann Arbor, MI
  • MAS artist, Jenniffer Omaitz, Kent, OH
  • MAS artist, Ellie Honl, Bloomington, IN
  • MAS artist, Jessica Anderson, Jacksonville, IL
  • MAS artist, Jason Ackman, Rushville, IL
  • MAS artist, Krista Svalbonas, Chicago, IL
  • MAS artist, Emmy Lingscheit, Urbana, IL
  • MAS artist, Karri Dieken, Valley City, ND
  • MAS artist, Sharon Grey, Rapid City, SD
  • MAS artist, Jody Boyer, Omaha, NE
  • MAS artist, Lori Elliott-Bartle, Omaha, NE
  • MAS artist, Rachel Mindrup, Omaha, NE
  • MAS artist, Joe Bussell, Kansas City, KS
  • MAS artist, Larry Thomas, Kansas City, KS
  • Consuelo Cruz, Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, MO
  • Maria Vasquez Boyd, Artspeak Radio, Kansas City, MO
  • Marissa Starke, Kansas City Artists Coalition, Kansas City, MO
  • Beverly Ahern, H & R Block Artspace, Kansas City, MO

This project was supported by a grant from the Kohler Foundation, Inc (2014-2016).

 

This video is about MAS 2016 artists sharing their thoughts on being our featured artists. Running time: 10:55.

 

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L to R: Frank Juarez, Jonathan Fritsch, MAS artists Karri Dieken, and Ellie Honl in Omaha, NE (2016)

 

MAS 2016 Gallery

 

Click here to view our photos from the road. 

You can now follow us on instagram.com/midwestartiststudios or like us on facebook at facebook.com/midwestartiststudios.

Get your copy today of the 2014 & 2015 MAS Catalog/Workbook by clicking here

Introducing the 2016 MAS featured artists

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I am extremely excited to be heading into Year 3 of the 3 year project, the Midwest Artist Studios™ (MAS) Project. I will be traveling this summer to the following states to visit the 2016 MAS featured artists; Karri Dieken (ND), Sharon Grey (SD), Jody Boyer (NE), Lori Elliott-Bartle (NE), Rachel Mindrup (NE), Joe Bussell (KS), and Larry Thomas (KS).

These artists were selected based on their responses to an online survey focusing on Art Education, body of work, and a Skype interview.

Throughout the studio visits I will be introducing you to 7 amazing and talented artists from the Midwest working in printmaking to painting, sculpture to mixed media and collage to installation art.

Click here to read a collaborative reflection from this past school year’s MAS Project. 

This project is supported by a grant from the Kohler Foundation, Inc. 

Join me on this MAS adventure via facebook.com/midwestartiststudios or subscribe to the blog, midwestartiststudios.com.

– Frank Juarez, art educator and founder

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portrait2014.5_thumbKarri Dieken

Web: www.karriadieken.com

Here are two 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.

I have always known I was going to be a teacher, how I was going to get there and the full time line. Up until my final year of college, it was then, that I met a professor who changed the way I will forever look at teaching. Rita Cihlar Hermann was a professor of photography, she engaged all students in the course dialogue, creation or work, and developed a safe work space. I never, thought college would be a place with bullying, I found out during my final year of school that there were so many students who didn’t quite fit in. This is where Rita, helped them see they had a full potential, and a place in art, where they could share their stories and belong. She incorporated interdisciplinary curriculum, innovative uses of technology, and group work where all the members actually participated. It was as if she had some magical power over the students, where everyone wanted to participate and create to the best of their ability. Her magical power was positivity, and using positive feedback during critiques, she modeled behavior on acceptance and free speech without hurting another person. During this last year I was exposed to new forms of art and photography and how they could be created to make one piece of work or a body of work. That we as a class were a team and once we worked together we were un-stoppable. Today, I use many of the teaching methods facilitated my Rita. It is through kindness and positive feedback that we see the greatest gains, building strength through confidence and trust, this is what allows for the opportunities to take risks and not fear art. Its with this that I share art in my classroom, exposing students to a world they shouldn’t fear. The biggest gain has been seeing so many students share their creative voice!

Why is Art Education important today?

Art is a way to pair our thoughts and ideas in multiple forms, mediums, methods. Its something that everyone can do! Through art education we will open doors for future scientist, mathematicians, doctors, accountants, and so much more. With out art education in schools, children loose the opportunity to express themselves through visual images and creative solutions. We can look at Adult coloring books and see that art is essential in balancing our everyday lives. Art is a necessary part of our lives, and is essential in our K-12 and college schools. Art is the butter to our dry toast!

Artist Statement

As a mixed media artist, she is interested in fibers and polymers as mediums for documenting moments in time, considerations for collecting data, re-creating patterns, and engaging in community based performances and installations.

Relying on the repetition of imagery found in relationship to domesticity of common place and nostalgia. With the use of various techniques within handmade art making practices. Her work is about making marks via material exploration. She works with both traditional fibers, to cast porcelain, to found material sculpture. Resulting products range from cross stitched food, domestic interior installations, prints and paintings about “home.” Dieken, references outdated technological use of communication with everyday objects and repeated patterns.  Type writers, telephones, sewing machines, and bicycles become surrogate objects within each narrative space. Much of the work is instigated by a collection of narratives informed by life experiences growing up in the Midwest to current daily interactions. The labor intensive repetitive work is an act of meditation, remembrance and homage to her Grandmother and Father.

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Bio

Dieken grew up in the badlands region of the Midwest, inspired by the landscape, heritage, craft and the hand-made. She earned an MFA from Washington State University in 2010, and a BSED in Art from Black Hills State University in 2007. She has studied printmaking, sculpture, photography, and ceramics throughout her education.

Since 2007, her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, New Zealand, Germany, and the Netherlands. Her work has been included in exhibits at the Plains Art Museum, Museum of Art WSU, Boise Art Museum, Essex Art Center, Dahl Fine Art Center, and the South Dakota State Museum of Art. A selection of her prints have been acquisition into the permanent collections at the Museum of Art WSU, Boise Art Museum, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and the Missoula Art Museum. She continues to participate in select print exchanges and sculpture based installations exploring narratives of nuclear family, midwestern heritage, and childhood in rural America.

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Announcement: 2016 Featured Artists for the Midwest Artist Studios Project

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I am happy to announce our 7 featured artists for our last year of the Midwest Artist Studios Project. They are Karri Dieken (ND), Sharon Grey (SD), Lori Elliott-Bartle (NE), Rachel Mindrup (NE), Jody Boyer (NE), Larry Thomas (KS), and Joe Bussell (KS). Soon I will be providing more information on these artists via this site. Stay tuned.

Congratulations, Karri, Sharon, Lori, Rachel, Jody, Larry, and Joe!

Frank Juarez, art educator and founder

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Impressions on the Midwest Artist Studios Project

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IMG_4418Here are the thoughts of a high school freshman on the Midwest Artist Studios Project. This project has a bigger impact on students who have been exposed to this project that I would have ever imagined. I was impressed on how this student was engaged in this process. – Frank Juarez, founder.
 
I was fortunate to get a chance to work with him during our freshmen art class. I thought that the program that he has created at home is a great way to get high school kids involved with the arts. Usually when I think of art and artists, as I’m sure is common with most people, I think of two types of people. I think of the tortured artists, like Van Gogh. The other type of artist would be the classic painter, who always seems to have died before appreciation for their art developed.
 
Previous to the discussion with Mr. Juarez, I would not really think of being an accomplished artist as something attainable for people today. It seems as though we see accomplishment for artists as something that can only be attained after death. Mr. Juarez helped me see that success in art is not limited to past generations, but there are actually many successful artists who create masterpieces in my own community.—Ursula, class of 2019

Midwest Artist Studios Project in Ojai, California

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This spring break MAS founder and art educator, Frank Juarez, is participating in a visiting artist program at The Thacher School in Ojai, California. He will be working with Mrs. Liz Mahoney’s beginning to advanced art students. He will be introducing students to the Midwest Artist Studios Project through a series of art lessons, which highlights artists living in the Midwest. In addition, he will be Skyping the artists into the classroom so that they can have the opportunity to interact with them via a critique and/or Q & A.

Some of the artists introduced are Year 1: Todd Mrozinski (WI) and Jane Ryder (IA) as well as Year 2: Jessica Anderson (IL) and Jenniffer Omaitz (OH). 

Timeline:

Please note – images will be added each day of the residency. 

On March 25th, he spent the day getting to know the art students. Mrs. Mahoney’s students are fabulous, talented, and eager to learn more about art.

Day 1

On March 28th Advanced Art students and Intro Art students were  introduced their respective artists, process, and media. Artists discussed were MAS artists, Jenniffer Omaitz (OH) and Todd Mrozinski (WI). After the presentation, students began to either set up their still life for Folded Gestures: Playing with Form and Space lesson or deciding what the subject matter would be for their Shadows: Enter the Light lesson, respectively.

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Day 2

On March 29th, Studio Art students were introduced to the work of MAS artist, Jane Ryder (IA) followed by planning out their composition on paper. They are asked to create their own ecosystem based on observation, personal ideas, and using technology. The Intro Art students began working on their shadow paintings. Colors chosen consisted of a limited color palette with a dark tone, mid tone, and highlight of their choosing. 

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Day 3

On March 30th students continued to work on their assigned projects. Some students used today to catch up while others began to add color to their projects. It is interesting to see how they take the information presented and make the work their very own with their own ideas and interpretation. 

 

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Day 4

On March 31st, the art students had its first Skype session. Intro art students had the opportunity to talk to MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski (WI) about his work, process, and a brief critique/ Q&A with the students. Below is an excerpt from their session. 

 

About Todd’s work

The shadow series started on the one year anniversary of my father’s death. Wanting to connect with him, Mrozinski started to paint his portrait based off of a black and white photo from when he was a young priest. He had not painted a traditional portrait in years and soon was frustrated. Disgruntled, he laid on the couch until his wife entered the studio. She saw the large amount of dark acrylic paint mixed on the palette and asked if she could cover the canvas so it would not go to waste. He agreed and took a nap. When he woke up, he noticed the warm light coming in through the front door. He looked out at the tree shadows and realized, in that instant, what he needed to paint. He took the dark canvas off the working wall, laid it on the ground, knelt down and traced the tree shadow directly onto the canvas. He realized as life is to light, death is to shadows, one cannot be without the other. His dad was showing himself in a different form and he felt his presence profoundly. The shadow series began.

Mrozinski’s work is a record of what is going on around him in the present moment. His subject matter is his family, friends, house and yard which he records and adorse on a daily basis. The beauty and power of shadows, the mysterious and ever changing light that creates them and their ambiguity and implied meaning continue to inspire me and infuse my work. Each painting begins by tracing the object’s cast shadow directly onto the canvas and is an actual size record of time and space. He is constantly amazed how a single outline can capture a gesture, mood and personality and how color and edge can create space, focus and mood. Each painting becomes a light infused container that preserves a moment, painted directly though the malleable and flowing medium of oil paint. Through drips, skeins and piles of paint, the surface becomes activated and glows with a light from within.

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Day 5 (Final Day)

On April 1st, the week concluded with Studio Art students skyping with MAS artist, Jane Ryder (IA). Students asked about the artist’s approach to her chosen medium (gouache), ways to stay motivated, artist’s current work, a brief critique between students and artist and a Q & A. The Advanced Art students kept working on their project, “Folded Gestures: Playing with Form and Space”.  I can’t wait to see the final outcome from the Intro Art, Studio Art, and Advanced Studio art students. I would like to end this post with a huge thanks to Mrs. Mahoney (art teacher) and The Thacher School for having me and for their hospitality. This experience was fabulous and memorable. 

About Jane’s work

Jane’s paintings are a right-brained approach to observing, dissecting, and recording the objective subject matter found in the lakes, rivers, prairies, and forests of south central Iowa. As her intimacy with the land surrounding her evolves, so does her approaches for depicting the complexities of varying terrains and the plants and animals that occupy them.

Each of her gouache paintings is a fictitious ecosystem that has been broken down into a series of vignettes. Each vignette describes the decay, growth, and interaction between the flora and fauna of that imagined place. Although bold colors, re- peating patterns, and flattened space make the paintings appear fantastic in nature, each scene is based off an observation.

She is constantly inspired by the complexities of the natural world. Her work is an ever evolving narrative about the interconnectedness of all things and the functions of an organism in a community of plants and animals.