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. 

Jenniffer Omaitz – Kent, Ohio

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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 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.

 

Jenniffer Omaitz

Web: www.omaitz.com

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.

Bio

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. 

 

Kate Robertson – Ann Arbor, Michigan

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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

________________________________________________________________________

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.

 I think my artistic path has been aided in countless ways by instructors and individuals with a desire to share their excitement and knowledge on how to be a maker. Without these wonderful mentors at all stages of my life I would not have found such a fulfilling career in the arts. I hope to be a leader in passing that energy on to others.

Why is Art Education today?

As a part of a non-profit art center I continual see not only the need but the desire within my community for quality Art Education. As these programs continue to be cut from schools the need and desire for them does not go away. We are also collaborating and working to provide a place where individuals of all ages can have the ability to incorporate technology into their art practice.

Kate Robertson

Webwww.k8robertson.com

Kate Robertson creates objects that establish an intimate viewing experience and question the ways we interpret incomplete information. By exploring the dichotomy between interior and exterior spaces her  intention is for the viewer to be engaged in a space separate from their body. The inability to simultaneously see the exterior and interior allows her to broach notions of fragmentation, cropping and collage. She likes to approach the interior spaces with a sense of exploration and a connection the venue in which they are to be displayed.

Bio

Kate received her BFA from Minnesota State University in Moorhead Minnesota with an emphasis in sculpture as well as a minor in Art History. She is currently the Director of Education at the Ann Arbor Art Center and is preparing for a large contemporary outdoor art exhibition taking place in downtown Ann Arbor this October.

Gallery

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