What classes do you teach?
Primarily Printmaking and Drawing
What is your art background?
I got my Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamline in St. Paul in 1990 where I majored in studio art and focused on printmaking. I also minored in French, so I spent my junior year studying in France. After that, I went to the University of Michigan for grad school and stayed there for my Master of Fine Arts.
How did you come to Concordia?
I have been here since 1995. When I got out of grad school, I spent seven months in New York and bopped around to different museums and odd jobs but didn’t get anywhere while I was there. I loved the city, but I realized that my work is dependent on nature. I missed Minnesota. My parents lived in northern Minnesota at the time, so I came back and started applying for jobs. I didn’t know where I would be in the long run, but I am very happy about where I am. I am stunned by how fast the time has gone.
In your opinion, is art a skill or talent?
It’s both. Yes, some people have a good eye inherently and they can automatically compose well or they have an affinity for mark making or drawing. I would say that some of it people are born with and some is environmental.
Depending on what we are encouraged to do as children and what we are given positive feedback about, it will change how much skill and talent we will develop. I do think that people who are really successful with art also have a lot of drive because it takes so much time. The skill part is the practice – the more you practice something, the better you get at it – it’s the same as anything.
How do you give grades for something that some would consider to be “ungradable”?
I begin by looking at the students’ work to see if they have used the principles of design effectively. In my intro classes, when I give an assignment there is a lot of nuts and bolts in the making of the images. When things get more advanced, we are often going beyond the building blocks, so the grading becomes more about content and the effective communication of the piece. That being said, there is also creativity in breaking the rules.
Why is creativity and art important, even if you aren’t going to pursue art as a profession?
Creativity empowers you no matter how you are using it. When you use creativity, you are able to problem solve in a way that is atypical and it can be applied to anything else in your future. Through art, you will begin to think about approaching a problem in different ways than before.
What do you hope for young artists about to graduate?
I hope young artists are not consumed with stress, that they don’t put limitations on themselves, and that they find surprise and great joy in the process of finding their identity as artists.
What is your favorite medium?
My favorite medium is an obvious answer for me: printmaking. But recently, I would have to say mixed media. There is such variety in print in general, but adding mixed media to that complicates things in a way that excites me.
What’s next for your work?
I am in between projects right now. I recently had work up for the faculty art show and next I am going to begin working on images for a composer – I can’t say much yet! What I can say is that there will be a lot of intense drawing in my new studio on my property this summer, which I’m so excited about. Half of it is Joe’s [my spouse’s] shop for him to work on tractors and the other half is for me. My studio was once in our bedroom – my projects would end up all over the house!
Do you have a favorite artist?
No! I like looking at everything! I love artists whose work is really different from what I am doing. I love thinking, “How did they get there mentally and technically?”