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.

MAS founder, Frank Juarez, visits The Thacher School in Ojai, California

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MAS founder and art educator, Frank Juarez, will be participating in a visiting artist program at The Thacher School in Ojai, California. This residency will focus on integrating art into other content areas as well as exposing, educating, and engaging students on regional contemporary art from the Midwest. In addition, create opportunities for students to interact with MAS artists via Skype for a 1-to-1 online critique and Q&A.

Click the link or image to see video of The Thacher School.  

Courtesy of The Thacher School

Courtesy of The Thacher School

http://www.thacher.org/Page/Site-Entry-Full-Video

Meditation Drawings at Sheboygan North High School with MAS artist, Jessica Anderson

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On March 14, MAS artist, Jessica Anderson, spent the day at Sheboygan North High School connecting with students through her project, Meditation Walking, as the basis for her meditation drawings that she facilitated with Drawing/Painting II, AP Studio Art, and Senior Art 2 students. Jessica is one of our Year 2 MAS artists. 

Jessica’s artist statement states:

Part research, part design, part invention – my work navigates the boundary between mind and body through a re-contextualized lens of science, medicine, and biologic phenomena. Reminiscent of laboratory investigations, my invented scenarios answer questions with questions and provoke participatory explorations of the individual self.  

Taking the position as neither a skeptic nor a promoter, my research examines the role of holistic healing practices in contemporary culture. I am interested in individual relationships within these mechanisms of health and provide viewers with opportunities to test their own boundaries of belief. Reframing practices such as a detoxifying footbath, a chi activation machine, and phenomenological exercises, my re-contextualization of existing treatments heightens the tension of purpose, and provides viewers with neutral environments of investigation. 

Merging factual information with reinvented application allows me to expand the dialogue of cognitive occurrences. For instance, EMDR therapy asks patients to lean their head to the left to access thoughts and to lean their head to the right to access feelings and emotions. Redirecting this information, I then ask: Is there a discernible difference between these two cerebral directions when drawing a line? 

It is a question that can only be answered through experience, observation, and communally applied analytics. 

In my work, invitations for experience occur through demonstrative videos, interactive objects/devices, evocative statements of research, and performative exercises. Together, each of these installation elements create a multi-dimensional environment of investigative viewing, biologic questioning, and experiential answering. By repositioning scientifically grounded phenomena into the context of a gallery, information begins to transcend ratiocination and calls upon a physical conversation between mind, body, and personal experience. 

Katie, drawing/painting II student, writes, “the meditation drawing experience was very different from what I was expecting going into it. My mind works in a very mechanical fashion so I thought that I would not be able to relax and have my hand wander for a period of time. I found myself having completely letting go. Tracking time was impossible. When just sitting and doing nothing, 10 minutes felt like an eternity. Time was called when I thought we were only half way through. After completing the session, I felt more relaxed, more confident in my decisions, and more sensitive to my surroundings. I would gladly doing this again and recommend it to anyone. 

Abrille, drawing/painting II student, writes, “I felt that with this meditation drawing it was weird. At First, it was different because I never done it before. I learned that basically letting your mind take over your hand. You do not exactly create something recognizable. I thought this idea was cool because I never thought you could meditate through art. I was pretty excited with trying something new. In the end Id did get comfortable with doing this. By the time we were finished I was really relaxed, but when I opened my eyes to see what I drew it was unexpected.

Brittany, drawing/painting II student, writes, “Jessica did an amazing job! It was a great experience. I would do it all of the time. I felt refreshed. My mind was at peace. 

Mikayla, AP Studio Art student, writes, my experience during the meditation drawing was calming. I wasn’t thinking about what I was drawing, but more what I was feeling. This process taught me that to create art, I do not need to always necessarily think it through, but express how I’m feeling. I also learned that meditation drawing is the releasing of one’s mind. The thoughts and expressions in our minds flow directly into our hand and create an image on paper. When introduced to this process I was very interested. It seemed very stress free and enjoyable. After it was all done, the meditation drawing session made me feel very relaxed. I was also quite surprised by how my drawing looked. It pretty much was a bunch of scribbles, but nonetheless very enjoyable. 

Running Time: 14:17 with a 6:21 introduction by Jessica. 

Get your copy today – Year 2 Midwest Artist Studios Project

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The catalog contains 66 pages with studio images and full interviews with our featured Midwest artists: Mellissa Redman (MI), Kate Robertson (MI), Jenniffer Omaitz (OH), Ellie Honl (IN), Jessica Anderson (IL), Jason Ackman (IL), Krista Svalbonas (IL), and Emmy Lingscheit (IL).

The workbook contains 96 pages with color illustrations and grades 6-12 lesson plans inspired from our studio visits with our Year 2 Midwest artists. This includes access to our Backroom on our MAS site, which gives you access to artist videos, a gallery of images, and the option of contacting the artist for a Skype session with your students. 

Published by the Midwest Artist Studios™ Project, 2015

Catalog design by Erika Block of Creative Studios

Limited Qty: 100

(Stock code: MASCATWKBK15)

Click here to purchase this catalog & workbook

This project is supported by a grant from the Kohler Foundation, Inc. and the Wisconsin Art Education Association.

Orders will be shipped within 7-10 business days of your purchase. 

MAS_WAEAad2016

 

Year 2 MAS Catalog and Workbook is now available. Get your copy today!

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IMG_7506Year 2 MAS Catalog and Workbook is now available for purchase. This publication features 8 amazing artists from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. They are Mellissa Redman (Grand Rapids, MI), Kate Robertson (Ann Arbor, MI), Jenniffer Omaitz (Kent, OH), Ellie Honl (Bloomington, IN), Jessica Anderson (Jackson, IL), Jason Ackman (Rushville, IL), Krista Svalbonas (Chicago, IL), and Emmy Lingscheit (Urbana, IL). These artists’ careers range from emerging to established working in mixed media, sculpture, painting, printmaking, installation, performance, photography, and collage.

To purchase your copy click the link.

MAS publication is only $40.70 (includes shipping/handling).

(includes a catalog with artist interviews and studio shots. As well as a workbook containing lesson plans exposing, educating, and engaging students into various studio practices and media. In addition, to a series of artist videos, a gallery of images, and the opportunity to Skype the artists).

There is a limited quantity available.

I am happy to announce that this year’s publication is printed by NASCO arts & crafts in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. There is a beautiful ad inside this publication.

If you have purchased last year’s MAS publication I would LOVE to hear from you.

Thank you for your support.
Frank Juarez

art educator & founder

Here is one of my recorded Skype sessions with MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski

Year 2 MAS publication would not be possible without these contributors.

Layout by Erika L. Block.
Photography by Pat Ryan (unless otherwise noted).
Curriculum development by Frank Juarez.

The Midwest Artist Studios Project is supported by a grant from the Kohler Foundation, Inc, and the Wisconsin Art Education Association. 

Drawing-Painting I students Skype with MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski

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On November 5th, Mr. Juarez’s Drawing/Painting I students skyped with Midwest Artist Studios (MAS) artist, Todd Mrozinski. The MAS project aims to connect art education with regional contemporary artists through studio visits, curriculum documentation, and opportunities for educator outreach. 

Todd is a full-time artist living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is currently the 2015-2016 Pfister Artist in Residence.

Born in Rensselaer, IN in 1974, Todd has loved to paint for as long as he can remember. He acquired his BFA in painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 1997 and in 1996 attended The New York Studio Program. He has been in solo and group exhibitions nationwide and his work is in various public and private collections. By focusing on two main areas, shadows and clothing, he explores the power of a subject’s presence through its absence. Meditation and contemplation as well as following inspiration and free flowing expression are essential to his working practice. Todd sees and shares the beauty and illumination of light and personality through drips and skeins and piles of paint. He and his wife, Renee Bebeau, have a studio in The Nut Factory, Riverwest, Wisconsin, where they offer art classes and workshops. He is currently represented by Woodman/Shimko Gallery, Palm Springs, California.   

Text highlighted in orange are live links to websites. 

Running time: 14:34

The Midwest Artist Studios Project is supported by a grant from the Kohler Foundation, Inc., Wisconsin Art Education Association, and the National Art Education Foundation. 

Frank Juarez presents at the 2015 Wisconsin Art Education Association conference at Lawrence University

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photo cred: Jonathan Fritsch

photo cred: Jonathan Fritsch

On October 22, Frank Juarez, MAS founder, presented at the WAEA conference at Lawrence University in Appleton on his Midwest Artist Studios Project. The MAS Project aims to connect art education with regional contemporary art through studio visits, curriculum development, and opportunities for educator outreach. 

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 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 create a catalog and an curriculum workbook, which contains 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. In addition to the publication, an series of artist videos, gallery of images have been created for educator use. As well as creating a platform for educators to connect with the MAS artists via Skype. 

To date this project has featured artists from Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In 2016, I will be introducing our next roster of artists from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Most recently, it has been featured in the September issue of Art Education: A Journal of the National Art Education Association. Click here to read the article. 

 

On the Road: Year 2 Midwest Artist Studios Project Summer 2015 Reflection

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Version 2This summer my journey took me to Grand Rapids, Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Kent, Ohio; Bloomington, Indiana; Jacksonville, Illinois, and Rushville, Illinois. I met Mellissa Redman, Kate Robertson, Jenniffer Omaitz, Ellie Honl, Jessica Anderson, and Jason Ackman, respectively. Each artist brought something special to this project. Along with meeting these talented artists I visited the Ann Arbor Art Center and the Indiana University Art Museum. 

It was a grueling experience traveling from one city to the next each day documenting our featured artists. By Friday one of the artists said, “you look tired”. Every artist had an unique story to share about where their studio practice have taken them, where they are today, and what they have planned for the future. What I find exciting about this project is that we do not know what we will be walking into, what we will hear, or what we will see. The studio visits ranged from a studio apartment to a barn, a house to a printmaking department at Indiana University, and a basement to a defunct book store. Last year one of my Art Foundations 1 student mentioned that a studio can exist anywhere. She is so right!

Today I head back to Wisconsin and begin to go through all of the photographs, videos, and audio.  

Looking Ahead

In late August I will be visiting Emmy Lingscheit at her artist in residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin followed by the last two studio visits in late September to visit Krista Svalbonas (Chicag0, Illinois) and Emmy Lingscheit (Urbana, Illinois). Also slated in September is the MAS Project published in the National Art Education Association Instructional Resource Publication. 

On October 22 & 23 I will be presenting on our project at the Wisconsin Art Education Association 2015 Fall Conference in Appleton, Wisconsin as well as being an exhibitor where I will have a trailer for Year 2 MAS featured artists and Year 1 MAS catalog & workbook available for purchase. 

What I like about this project is that it is provides a platform for my students to be introduced to a variety of artistic processes and creating opportunities for them to begin an online dialogue with these artists. 

– Frank Juarez, art educator

Here is a snapshot of the trip from July 26 through July 31, 2015. 

Photo cred: Jonathan Fritsch and Frank Juarez. 

To read about the artists visited during this trip click on their names

Mellissa Redman, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Kate Robertson, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jenniffer Omaitz, Kent, Ohio

Ellie Honl, Bloomington, Indiana

Jessica Anderson, Jacksonville, Illinois

Jason Ackman, Rushville, Illinois

This project is supported by a grant from the National Art Education Foundation, Kohler Foundation, Inc., and the Wisconsin Art Education Association. 

Jason Ackman – Rushville, Illinois

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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.

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

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

– Frank Juarez

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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.

Where do I begin? Creating art has been one of the most consistent and positive things I encountered in school. My high school art room was my sanctuary. It was in Karen Icenogle’s room that I always felt at home. I was allowed to experiment and try new things. Even if doing so resulted in failure. In middle school I had been working on a drawing that would later be transferred to a scratchboard. I ended up taking far longer than the other students to complete the initial drawing. It was then that my teacher, Nancy Pitlik, told me to skip the scratchboard and keep going with the pen drawing I was working on. I thought that was pretty cool that she was willing to highjack the project and allow me to move in a different direction.

Why is Art Education important today?

Art Education is important because it challenges students to become creative problem solvers. No matter what a student chooses to do with their life after they leave school they will be far more impactful and successful in whatever they choose if they can come up with creative solutions. Whether that be as an artist, educator, factory worker, doctor, custodian, you name it; all require creative problem solving skills. Art Education deeply fosters this type of development in a student.

Jason Ackman

Web: www.jasonackman.org

The symbolic meaning that can be found in the most ordinary, outdated and utilitarian objects intrigues me. These objects are rich with meaning and significance. Many times they have outlived their usefulness or purpose. Their place as forgotten objects allows us to see them re-imagined- we are able to see their metaphorical potential because we are able to distance ourselves from their original intent or purpose. My work explores these alternative or re-imag- ined meanings as they relate to the concepts of transition and discernment. Sculpting and carving these once common and everyday objects out of reclaimed lumber and clay is a sub- tle and transformative process. Through this process I reveal the unrefined qualities of the chosen material. Ultimately, the re-imagining of these seemingly outdated objects and dis- carded materials illuminates the deeper meaning that can be found in forgotten or cast aside items. This illumination, in turn, reflects on the way we view our own human experiences. I choose weathered surfaces and a neutral monochromatic palette to unify each piece and use hand tools and simple construction techniques to enhance the beauty of such materials. In re- gards to using reclaimed materials I embrace the challenge of making something out of a ma- terial that has seemingly lost its purpose or need-the things that others look past, the things that so often don’t fit the standard mold of perfection. I see the material not for what it was, but for what it will become. In my hands it still has worth and a purpose yet to be discovered.

Bio

Jason Ackman is a high school art teacher and sculptor living in west central Illinois with his wife and two daughters. He received his BA from Western Illinois University and for the past 16 years he has been teaching a wide range of studio art classes at Rushville-Industry High School. His studio practice over the past 5 years has been focused on the use of reclaimed lumber as a sculptural medium.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.