Krista Svalbonas – Chicago, 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.

I have to thank my high school art teachers for being so amazingly supportive of me. After exhausting every art class possible in the school they devised a series of independent studies for me to focus on media and ideas that I wished to explore. Without there continual sponsorship who knows where I would be.

Why is Art Education today?

I read an article the other day that talked about an MFA being the new MBA. So much of today’s world is looking for the creative thinker, someone who can “think outside of the box”. Arts education, as that article adeptly put, is filled with ways to problem solve, think conceptually, flexibility and of course creativity. Without arts education many of our cultural, technological and social advances wouldn’t have happened.

Krista Svalbonas

Web: www.kristasvalbonas.com

head_shotIn the Presence of Memory Statement:

I grew up in an area of Pennsylvania dominated by the steel industry, and have long been interested in industrial architecture as an expression of cultural history.  “In the Presence of Memory” explores the architectural vestiges of a far more ancient industry: agriculture. The disappearing vernacular architecture of barns in rural Pennsylvania reveals their varied European lineages: specific structural elements reflect the building traditions of the home countries of the immigrant families who built them. A typology of these barn structures bears witness to centuries of migration. But what once seemed a stable and permanent destination is now in flux, as the family farm gives way to industrial farming, and farmland is converted to residential or commercial developments. For the past year I have been traveling throughout my home state to document these agricultural structures: abandoned, re-purposed, or – occasionally – still in use.  These photographic images have become the source material for this body of work. Using industrial felt (manufactured in Pennsylvania) as a substrate, I silk-screen images of architectural details of the barns using industrial pigments such as steel, iron and copper. I paint each piece individually using oil and cold wax, and cut into the felt, echoing the empty and thatched spaces of the often-dilapidated structures I have photographed. I “patch” these cut areas with colored sections of serigraph negatives, mimicking the splashes of incongruous color on the weathered surfaces that have been repaired again and again. The colors, forms and shapes of the felt panels all refer to the original structures; even in their abstraction, these paintings document the vanishing rural industrial landscape.

Bio

Krista Svalbonas holds a BFA in photography and design from Syracuse University and an interdisciplinary MFA in photography, sculpture and design from SUNY New Paltz. She has exhibited at the Miller Yezerski Gallery, Massachusetts; Watchung Art Center and George Segal Gallery in New Jersey; Monterey Peninsula Art Gallery in California; Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Matteawan Gallery, The Painting Center, Trestle Gallery, and BWAC in New York; and Tubac Center For The Arts, Arizona. She recently completed large-scale site-specific installations at the ISE Cultural Foundation in New York and Wall Gallery in Oakland, California. She was part of a two-year traveling group exhibition in Latvia, where her work was acquired for the permanent collection of the Cesis Art Museum. She is a recipient of a Cooper Union artist residency as well as a New Arts Program residency and exhibition, and was awarded a Bemis fellowship for 2015. Svalbonas is currently a lecturer in photography at Columbia College.

Gallery

 

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

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Mellissa Redman – Grand Rapids, 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 interned for the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology from 2013-14 and during that time I saw young teens who were not particularly interested in being in yet another program, let alone an arts program become truly excited about community projects they were involved in. The defining factor for the success of WMCAT is not the facilities or the glamour of the studios, but the genuine interest of the instructors and the hands on approach they have toward their students. These kids were what the school system would have considered not worth the time, but I found them really charming and attentive once given the right amounts of attention and motivation to see a project to it’s completion.

Why is Art Education today?

Art education impacted my decision to pursue art as a career. I was homeschooled from fifth grade until I entered college, but I attended school through fourth grade. The art classes I was involved in helped me to hold on to my creativity through very difficult family circumstances that would have otherwise extinguished my interest in the arts. Once I was homeschooled, my mother recognized that I was artistically inclined she put me in summer programs which fostered education through the arts.

Mellissa Redman 

Web: mellissajredman.smoothfolio.com

Mellissa_Redman (2)

 

The precursor to her current body of work was her father’s cancer diagnosis in May of 2011. She took this into her artwork as a way to record her feelings at the time, and it slowly evolved into a series of work on its own. The creative process turned from an escape to a cathartic experience. Coping with life is part of our existence as humans. It is an emotional process, affecting each individual differently. The concept of “masking” the true self is something that is well known by nearly every human being. In many ways, it can be described as an elaborate act, a play of sorts; in others, a survival tactic that maintains order and control. She believes both examples of these methods of coping can have positive outcomes.

The portraits in these pieces are not meant to represent any specific person or people group, rather humanity as a whole. Therefore, the expressions of the faces of these figures are neither threatening nor inviting. They are to be viewed as pensive and introverted; facing the viewer, yet clearly not acknowledging him/her for his or her own thoughts. The patterns she uses throughout the picture plane look may appear to be familiar to a viewer, but only in the way that they simply mimic the human fingerprint or loop/whorl pattern in which human hair grows. In addition to the patterning, she alters the smooth surface of the pieces with resin drips and pouring. Additionally, the patterning represents the complexities within oneself as anxieties multiply and are internalized. When light passes through the translucent screen-printed patterns, the portrait in the layers beneath the resin is interrupted. She begins with washes of watercolor that she builds up to increase color saturation. Over this, she uses colored pencil to flesh out the figure’s skin tone and facial details. The only other part of the body shown in this series is the neck, which she has made uniform in each individual piece to create homogeneity.

Once the portrait is completed, she screen prints a transparent thumbprint pattern directly onto the piece and cover the surface with a coating of clear epoxy resin. More transparent screen-printed patterns are printed in between layers of the resin, before the piece is completed. All of the pieces contain at least three layers of resin to achieve the correct amount of layering. The rest of the body is unimportant to this work as the focus is on the head. Behind the head of the figure is a colored disc. Although in art history, a flat disc behind the head of a figure was regarded as a holy symbol, its additional function is to represent a person’s aura (her reasoning for including it is the latter definition). She has modified the aura to act both as a compositional element to frame the face and head, and also to obscure it. Her goal with this series of work is to make the hidden external, to depict how swallowed fears and anxieties would appear if made tangible and visible. Though it’s well known that there are plenty of destructive, unhealthy, and dangerous coping strategies associated with emotional turmoil, she tends to think that there are an equal amount of positive experiences that can be gathered. It is these experiences that give us growth of character, a will to live. These are the experiences she hopes to convey in her work.

Bio

Mellissa Redman earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and Drawing from the University of Akron. A native of Akron, Ohio, Mellissa volunteered her time or artwork to the local YMCA and YWCA chapters, the University of Akron Ballet Institute, the City of Akron, The Chapel: Akron Campus, and the Akron Children’s Hospital. She now resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she recently received a Master’s Degree of Fine Art in Painting at the Kendall College of Art and Design. Though she works with water-based media, her paintings also include drawing, printing and collage.

 

Gallery

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

Josh Wilichowski and Vincenzio Donatelle – Minnesota

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Today our journey takes us into the studios of Josh Wilichowski and Vincenzio Donatelle

Josh Wilichowski

wilichowski.com

desk 14Men have come to understand through tradition, the media, our families, and our peers, that a man must maintain a rough-hewn, stoic façade to overcompensate for even the most basic feelings. Many males choose to bolster their identity by submitting to the stereotype, surrounding themselves with the trappings of masculinity. In this case, by utilizing these trappings in conjunction with coping tools like posturing, blending in, and physical redirection, they are allowed a loophole in which to express themselves and their hidden emotions.

The resulting manifestations of these actions become markers, each functioning as a personal vehicle. They carry with them such things as reminiscence, emotional exploration and identity. Like a pedigree, these attributes can be traced and recorded, and allows a view of each totemic relationship. In my work, I create allegories of these accessories and the accompanying masculine redirections through the investigation of transferal, the documentation of emotional pathways, and the use of the actual objects.

The object I am currently examining is the pickup truck. The truck is designed to pull and carry immense loads, as well as be a hard-working and dependable partner for its operator. However, it also readily accepts the added burden of transporting more delicate emotional payloads such as intimacy, pride, and self-doubt.   My current body of work is the study of trucks and my attempt to further understand not only the machine, but also the stigma of being a man.

About

Joshua Wilichowski (b Wausau, WI, 1975) received his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A multi-media artist, his work investigates both the relationship we form with and the importance placed on inanimate objects. His work has been exhibited at venues nationwide, including RocksBox Contemporary Art in Portland, OR, the P3 Gallery in Las Vegas, NV, as well as numerous colleges and art centers. He currently lives and works in North St Paul, MN.

Vincenzio Donatelle

vincenziodonatelle.squarespace.com

IMG_0270I use the repetitive images, textures and language of my work to produce semi-narrative compositions in the forms of paintings, collages and prints. I often employ structural elements to activate the space within the gallery thus forming an important middle ground in between the content within the frame and the viewer.

I observe the intersections of the individual, the social and their pathways producing serendipity, the rational versus the nonsensical as well as the way that the natural world collides with the artificial one to construct the human environment. I am particularly interested in the way stimulatory noise produced by this contemporary environment cohesively flows and recedes to produce concrete experience along side ambiguity.

About

I grew up in a family that was both supportive and demanding, which is kind of necessary when your family runs a restaurant and catering business together. When you grow up in that kind of environment you learn about working hard and constantly at pretty young age, of course you also learn the benefits of being your own boss too. None the less, everyone in my family is creatively minded, my mom was actually a sculptor, and my dad a painter. I saw my sister, fight her way into an Italian medical school which, may have taken a level of creativity that I cannot comprehend. I saw my brother grow into an incredibly intellectual artist, attending MCAD and just recently graduating from SVA in NYC. But from a young age we were always, almost repetitively were told this beautiful piece of nihilistic optimism: “You need to work hard at whatever you do, and find comfort in that, because when you do throw yourself into it, perhaps, no one will notice or care, in fact others may try to beat it out of you, the world will try and snap you out of it. But, if you don’t make the effort in the first place, without a doubt, nothing will happen.”

I recently graduated from MSU, Mankato and moved up to Minneapolis to live with my girlfriend, Julia, our Flemish giant and seven of our best friends. Since moving up I’ve had to struggle with making money in between making art and playing music in order to sustain myself and my life. Sometimes money, or lack there of, is more frustrating than anything else, because it can totally stifle or completely halt the creative process. For example, I needed to pay studio fees in May that resulted in me not being able to afford anything to print with or on. You learn to figure it out though, especially because there isn’t much of an option, except for maybe getting a service industry job. That all being said, I take pride in what I do, despite the hardships that come naturally. Though, frustrating as it can be, I think those moments force one to step back, examine, revise and tweak the theory or concept behind the work which, I believe can be just as relevant as producing work in the first place.

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