Many Waters Gallery
David Andree (based in Prior Lake, MN)
Freezing Cast, 2018-19
archival inkjet print
Courtesy of artist
Engaged in expanding the tradition of plein air painting, David Andree creates work on site exploring landscape as a subject of flux through painting, drawing, sculpture, and sound. Attracted to moments of tension between what was, what is, and what will be, my work strives to create meaningful abstractions through perpetually chasing the qualities of the fleeting present.
His Freeze Casting project is inspired by the drawing or painting idea of the volumetric gestural sketch. Fleeting sculptural forms are created by freezing fabric while wrapped around elements in the landscape to create their form. These sculptural forms are then removed from their original context and photographed to document them before they collapse. Their temporary nature and precarious sense of balance are meant to mirror the shared nature of the landscape which I am striving to heighten.
The locations for these interventions include the North Shore of Lake Superior and other various bodies of water in northern Minnesota. Using water gathered on location, in combination with its freezing climate, allows the sculptural forms to temporarily hold their shape as fragile abstractions that are a direct echo of the landscape’s shifting shoreline topography.
David Andree holds a Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York (SUNY) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is a recipient of a 2014 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant and holds tribal affiliation with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.
Alyssa Baguss (based in Anoka, Minnesota)
Wanderlust is the strong or irresistible impulse to travel and explore. It is often driven by the desire to escape and leave behind the familiar to experience the unknown world. The internet has allowed us to wander to unfamiliar lands never having to leave the comfort and safety of our homes. I am interested in how technology influences the way we experience the natural world and shapes our expectations of the landscape. My practice examines this digital “wanderlust”.
This new medium of virtual navigation is exchanging an actual experience for an abstraction of experience forming new habits of thought and behavior about the natural world. This technological window results in a setting that has become literally flat to many of us. It is this intangible experience of the landscape that interests me as an artist. Acknowledging this transition from natural phenomena to intellectual conception, I see our relationship with the natural landscape becoming distant and foreign.
Meander is a site-specific drawing installation depicting the Mississippi River in Minnesota. Each topographical data point is hand cut away from the paper visualizing elevational data collected by satellites. This narrow drawing references ribbon maps marketed to steam boat tourists in the 1800s. These maps depicted the entire Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico often measuring 3 inches wide and 11 feet long. Ribbon maps detailed interesting river towns travelers encountered while floating downriver and could fit in one’s pocket when rolled around a spool.
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Alyssa Baguss, Meander, 2017
Moira Bateman (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
By Way of Water, 2019
silk, wax, and thread
Moira Bateman had the opportunity to collect and view microscopic specimens from lake bottom sediment alongside paleo-limnologists. These lake scientists collect tubes that are several feet long, filled with layers of sediment dating back hundreds of years. This mud is rich with diatoms, single-celled algae, whose dead cells and resting cells one can see under the microscope.
In Bateman’s work the rhythms, shapes and forms viewed under the microscope are rendered at a larger than life scale. Uniting science and art, the work offers a unique way to “see” what is hidden to the naked eye and the conscious mind. By Way of Water is a 5 by 7 foot waxed cloth assemblage made with silk, dyed using various methods using natural materials including lake water, lake bottom sediment, natural tannins, and iron. The stained fabric was cut, placed, and heat set with wax to make this large-scale artwork. The resulting tapestries evoke expressions of birth, death and regeneration – the perpetual cycle of life.
Bateman holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota with concentrations in studio art and ecology.
Barbara Bend (based in Roberts, Wisconsin)
The Wave, 2020
zippers, neckties, knit t-shirt strips, curtain samples, silk necktie fabric, a sari, buttons, and shells
My work considers that exquisite interplay of natural beauty, examines the richness of community, and explores the power and potential of crisis. The Wave represents our present day, accelerated evolution of change. The natural state of waves, is change; they roll towards shore growing and breaking in rhythmic patterns. Their power, frightening, crashing into rocks slapping water in every direction, tearing at the shore. Yet, the light on the surface is a delicate, perpetual, mesmerizing dance of reflected light shaped by wind. This piece is a result of an overwhelming uncertainty I am experiencing by our present-day conditions.
I create from the materials at hand. I have explored raw materials, gathered plants for natural dyes, spun and reeled silk from cocoons, processed the wool from sheep creating a shawl, made quilts and rugs from remnants. Each leading to a deeper appreciation of the properties of fibers and traditional techniques. Presently, my raw materials are fabric related remnants, both used and new, and zippers.
I came to fiber sculpture and this technique after many years of exploring the properties of fibers on my own and through workshops and classes. I earned my BA in Applied Art from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.
Vernal Bogren Swift (based in Bovey, Minnesota)
The Mississippi, 2019–2020
cotton, plain woven, wax resist dyed
Vernal Bogren Swift*
I am a master Batik maker living in Bovey Minnesota and on the islands of Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia. My artistic interest is with geology and human behavior. Batiks traditionally are a way to talk about place and beliefs of a community. I follow this tradition , using my own territory and culture to express stories in the textile format.
At my place in rural Bovey, the Mississippi river is very close. A little creek, which has no name , runs through our farmland and a few miles beyond to join the river. We call that place the river road.
Putting names to places where things happen is where we do. Paleontologists have named the events that tell about the Mississippi from deep time – before the river was even born. Their evidence is caught in the limestone bedrock , put there before the limestone was a river bed. The first panel of this batik references that deep time and the magic of evolution of the River.
Kelsey Bosch (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Fissures II (beneath the surface), 2018
Kelsey Bosch is an interdisciplinary artist primarily working in sound and installation. She received a MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2016 and a BFA from the University of Minnesota, Department of Art in 2009.
Her artwork is de-centered and abstract to create threads of association between subjects, allowing multiple points of entry and perspectives. With sound she is able to manipulate the borders between constructed knowledge and wild unknowns, in order to acknowledge that what lies outside experience distorts its very center.
Fissures II (beneath the surface) was commissioned by the Weisman Art Museum for their Vanishing Ice exhibition in 2018. This work layers recordings of ice from Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland and a lake in southern Minnesota to create a connection between Kelsey’s experience of winter and the global loss of glacial ice. The composition cycles between these two recordings repeatedly, increasing in speed as the earth’s metabolic processes quicken, ultimately ending in a digital ice storm.
As researchers, activists and cultural workers across the globe grapple with how to communicate the full magnitude of human impact on the earth to public audiences, these four films offer mediations on this topic in the local context of the Mississippi River.
In Dam, Locke, Groyne, John Kim reconsiders America’s water control infrastructures as “monuments of displacement,” rejecting the glamorization of industrial achievements and insisting we account for the concrete ecological costs of human manipulation of natural waterways.
Jenny Schmid’s Fishes and Faces represents the human-influence age on Earth as a bleak animated musical; huffing organs accompany a grayscale collage of floating brushstrokes to fashion a somber backdrop for the humans, animals, industrial machines, and waste that enter and interact with the river.
Tia-Simone Gardner’s There’s Something in the Water approaches the Mississippi River through the lenses of various technologies of mass surveillance and policing, including satellite imagery and body cameras. Gardner employs these contemporary surveillance technologies to trace linkages between the American prison landscape of today and the historical role of water travel and control in the Atlantic slave trade.
In Anthropocene Refusal, Andrea Carlson uses computer technology to explore the indigenous relationship between nature and language. Hands wrapped in green fabric, projected on as a green screen, wade through the river’s waters as a disembodied voice counts upward in Ojibwe. Carlson projects Ojibwe bandoliers bags as well as footage of the river itself onto these hands as they interact, interrupt, blend with and mold the river’s current.
Isabelle Carbonell (based in Adamstown, MD)
The River in 24/7, 2020
Working in collaboration with Latinx filmmaker and commercial fisherman Andrés Camacho, Isabelle Carbonell collected this 24-hour-long audio recording along a stretch of the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana. This area is infamously known as the “chemical corridor” and “Cancer Alley.” These nicknames emerged from the industrial-scale dumping of petrochemical waste in this portion of the river, and the subsequent bursts of cancer diagnoses among the largely Black population of the River Parishes region.
What might 24 hours of listening to this chemical-laden water tell us about human impact on this waterway? While impossible to listen to the full recording in a single museum visit, the fact that you must at some point walk away from the continuous stream of noise, knowing that it played before you arrived and will continue to play after you leave, extends a temporal understanding of the sheer magnitude of the human use of the Mississippi River.
The river is a paradox, constantly fluid and yet absolutely unmoving from its spot as the life source of countless local municipalities. Petrochemical toxins erode the health of those living in proximity to the river in a similar fashion: pervasive yet silent, constant yet invisible.
Morgan Clifford (based in Stillwater, Minnesota)
linen, silk, paper, hemp, nettles, rayon, cotton
I look at images of land, air and water and then challenge myself to simplify them into colored/striped compositions that float in a gauze or dense surround. I mentally flatten pretty much everything I see, wondering how it would look steamrolled and turned into 2-D shapes and patterns.
Melissa Cooke Benson (based in Minneapolis, MN)
graphite on paper
Melissa Cooke Benson
For Plunge, I photographed myself as I sank and swirled in bathwater. The images depart from the framing of traditional portraiture. We zoom into close sections of the face. This cropping pushes the head to the surface of the paper, making the figure more ambiguous. Flesh and hair intertwine with ripples and bubbles. The scale of the drawings engulfs the viewer in a sea of marks. My drawings are made by dusting thin layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. The softness of the graphite provides a smooth surface that can be augmented by erasing in details and textures. No pencils are used in the work, allowing the surface to glow without the shine of heavy pencil marks. Brushstrokes break down to reveal illusion. The bathtub becomes a landscape.
Zamara Cuyun (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Midwife I, 2018
acrylic on canvas
Private Collection, Minneapolis, MN
Zamara Cuyún is, for better or worse, a product of colonization, with Indigenous roots in Guatemala – born and raised in Minneapolis. A self-taught, “Gringindia” artist of de-Indigenized Highland Maya ancestry, her art is her resistance – a resistance against the forces of colonization pervasive in Minnesota and across the Americas.
Women and waters are reflections of one another – intimately intertwined – viewed as sacred life-givers in Indigenous societies, yet focal points of commodification, exploitation, and destruction in settler-colonial society. It has been especially urgent for the colonizers to bring Indigenous women under white male Christian control.
The time has come to reclaim our sacred grandmothers, ourselves, and our future generations.
Here, the midwife fights the currents of the primordial birth sky-waters – the plumed serpent – with all her strength, pulling the next generation into this world. The earth reflected in the skies, the skies reflected in the waters. Thirteen circles in the serpent’s feathers represent the thirteen annual moon cycles of female power and the thirteen 20-day cycles of fetal gestation. Lago Atitlán, Guatemala, is the belly button of the world. The three volcanoes are the three stones of the grandparents’ sacred hearth at the center of creation – home.
Emily Donovan (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
Spirits Live Here, 2020
indigo, black walnut, golden rod on paper with wax and iron
We are lucky in Minnesota. Water can still be found in an ideal and pristine settings in the north. The Boundary Water Canoe Area is a place where it is abundant, clean with so much blue. I think of this land as mountaintops flooded with mysterious, entrancing, awesome and powerful water.
It’s a place to be celebrated and respected. When you immerse yourself into the wild landscape with a canoe and only what you can carry, you learn what is essential and important. In this place, nature is a force much stronger than you. But, this power is also fragile and is threatened like our other water sources.
The pristine beauty that is sought after by naturalists and those who admire the landscape is also coveted by industry for the underdeveloped mineral sources in the land. The Boundary Waters are endangered and the area is shrinking, as well as the protections put in place decades ago. The ecosystem is becoming damaged and water polluted as mines encroach closer and closer leaching residual chemicals into the lakes.
I created these paintings on paper with handmade dyes and minerals to explore this balance between human interaction, environment and the fragility of this symbiotic relationship. With natural materials, I capture the geological shapes and colors of the landscape and illustrate the issues the land and water are facing,
Gregory Euclide (based in St. Peter, Minnesota)
We invited falling into our new pattern of the land, 2018
acrylic, found objects, handmade diorama objects, pencil, pen, and thread on paper
The depiction of land has often been used as a means of celebrating or critiquing culture. The use of pastoral views, banal architecture and everyday trash problematize the traditional definitions of a natural landscape. Through the process of transforming and miniaturizing materials found in the land, objects, in their new context, are no longer discernible as natural or man-made. The juxtaposition of representational modes and materials create a hybrid space where the romanticized and actual intermingle. Contrasts between the flat, painted vistas and artifacts from the land expose the illusion of representation and subsequently confuse the pictorial space, calling into question the authenticity of the objects. The forms fracture the pictorial space, at times, inhabiting the frames, robbing them of their ability to define a single view and inviting a phenomenological exploration by the viewer.
Regina Flanagan (based in St Paul, MN)
Saint Croix Floodplain Forest Inundated, 2016
Gelatin silver print
Conservationist Aldo Leopold’s most-quoted moral dictum from “The Land Ethic” in A Sand County Almanac urges us to examine landscape questions in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right as well as economically expedient: a thing is right when it preserves the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community, and wrong when it tends otherwise. Philosopher Marcia Muelder Eaton in “The Beauty That Requires Health,” maintains the aesthetic experience of landscapes should be informed by ecological considerations of function and fitness, and what is perceived as beauty in a landscape includes an ethical dimension.
Leopold’s assertion that landscapes should be evaluated on nature’s own terms and Eaton’s challenge that art with landscape as its subject has an ethical obligation to reveal underlying functions – motivate the photography of Regina M Flanagan, artist and landscape architect from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Saint Croix Floodplain Forest Inundated, April 2016 is from her longitudinal study of the effects of global climate change on oak savannas, and maple-basswood, boreal and floodplain forests. Her work has been featured in over 90 exhibitions, and collections including the Minnesota Historical Society, and in 2014 and 2020, Flanagan was awarded Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants.
Billy Flynn (based in St Paul, MN)
Flooding in Alton, Illinois, 2015
archival inkjet print
Billy Flynn received his MFA from Newcastle University in Newcastle, England, and a BA in Studio Arts from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. He has exhibited at galleries and film festivals across the Midwest and in the United Kingdom. He works in a variety of mediums including photography, painting, film, and drawing to explore the myths and realities of the American landscape and what our relationship to nature means in the hyper-industrialized world.
The photograph Flooding in Alton, Illinois was taken in 2015 during a visit to the small river town of Alton, Illinois. Heavy rainfall that year led to significant flooding in Alton and the surrounding cities. The photograph shows Morrison’s Irish Pub surrounded by sandbags, and floodwater from the Mississippi beginning to recede under the towers of the local mill. It is the simple equation of climate change: warmer air holds more moisture, and more moisture causes more rain. Once in a generation floods are now occurring every few years.
Linda Gammell (based in St Paul, MN)
Mississippi: Book of Hours, 2010-2020
archival inkjet print
The Mississippi River is place to me, not necessarily a literal one, but an internal place where deep time, rhythms, and stillness happens. It is where I feel the effect of the turning of the earth, the position of the sun and moon, the seasons, the changing currents that make their way to the Gulf and to the oceans, the response to light of the cottonwoods growing on its banks, flocks of migrating birds, the shifting ice. This is psychically restorative in a time on the planet when all are suffering. While I am very conscious of the global crisis of climate change, I accept the dailiness of the river’s gifts. Many writers, including Rebecca Solnit, Wendell Berry, and others insist that such an act of solitude is a “counterforce of resistance.” To embrace delight and beauty is essential to humanity’s well being. For the other side of the brain, attention to the physical changes in this microcosm align with the scientific practice of phenology, the study of cyclical and seasonal natural phenomena, which are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate.
Mississippi: Book of Hours is a decade-long project that chronicles the river’s changes while I walk and photograph in all weather and seasons. As a notation system the photographs are indexed by the day of the year. The project’s title references Medieval Book of Hours in its personal sacred way of marking deep time.
My art over the years is about place and water. I have never lived more than a mile from the Mississippi River since I was eight years old. To me it was, and still is, a connection to this mysterious, wondrous, flawed globe.
Tia-Simone Gardner (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
Salt Water, 2019
archival inkjet print on dibond
This body of work examines the work of landscape imaging through the lens of Black geographies. Landscape, here, is seen as terraformation and human intervention in the environment, land-scape
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Tia-Simone Gardner (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
Shipmate/Shipment I, 2019
graphite and acrylic on panel
Tia-Simone Gardner (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
Dark and Perfect Memory, 2021
acrylic on plastic model
Ruthann Godollei (based in St Paul, MN)
Go Ask Alice (Flint Water), 2020
etched apothecary jar, letterpress relief printed card, adulterated “water”
Ruthann Godollei is the Wallace Professor of Art at Macalester College and the operator of Printland Press in St. Paul. She incorporates political and social commentary in pieces with dark, ironic humor. Go Ask Alice refers to Alice in Wonderland and the surreal situation of letting corporations decide environmental policy. I was born in Indiana when the city of Gary was dark at noon from industrial air pollution. Now I live in Minnesota, hosting a 300-mile Canadian tar sands crude oil pipeline with a record of ruptures and fires. Now they want to extend it across indigenous lands to Lake Superior, where we’re granting shoreside mining rights. The City of Flint Michigan, hit by auto industry closures, switched the water supply to the Flint River, to save money. The acidic water leached lead from the pipes and poisoned people, especially children. Would you drink what officials called “water” in Flint, Michigan? Many US cities, including Minnesota towns, face contaminated water today. Buzzwords from the media hover around, become attached to, and wash over disastrous events, as if actual humans weren’t being affected. I wanted to take the disembodiment out of these phrases and point to their direct expression and consequence.
Karen Goulet (based in Bemidji, Minnesota)
Mermaid Blues: Sweet Notes Found in a Bitter Lament, 2020
cotton and thread
I come from people who are makers and my love of needle and thread has traveled many generations. I consider myself a cultural hybrid – from Ojibwe, Métis, Sami/Finnish people.
My art reflects on histories and relationships that have been made by journeys, evolving cultures, and the fierce will to survive. It was water that brought my ancestors to new places and defined their lives. Today, rivers and lakes form and inform the stories I make. I remember the ones who came before me and hold dearly my love of water.
Mermaid Blues is about particularly cold winter days in the Northwoods. The sky emits colors of love at either end of the day in some sort of visual song suspended in the sky. It is a time when the sky misses its reflections in the water and the water spirits are longing to break free from icy covers. While we are all waiting wonderful things like sun dogs, Waywatay (Northern Lights) and these subtle colors
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Karen Goulet, Mermaid Blues: Sweet Notes Found in a Bitter Lament , 2020
Ian Hanesworth (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Currents I, Currents II, Currents III, 2019
relief print on kozo paper
This series stems from a meditative drawing practice that has populated my sketchbooks for the better part of a decade. The compositions grow intuitively, a series of concentric lines rippling out from various center points. They mimic topographical maps, or the surface of water. These specific prints were inspired by my relationship to a spring that tumbles down the hillside across the road from my parents’ farm. The spring is set back into the edge of the forest, where cold clear water emerges from the ground and makes its way over a landscape of moss covered stones, rotting logs, and thick floating mats of water cress. Spending our summer days wading in the spring, my sisters and I came to know the joy and pleasure of drinking wild water as it flowed out of the earth and into our bodies. The intricacies of carving this abstract composition provided time and space to ponder the significance of this sacred water to me and my family, to all of the people that have lived in this valley before us, and to the people that I hope will come to know this clean, clear water for generations to come.
Ian Hanesworth is a queer artist/farmer living and working in Minneapolis, MN. Their practice centers on ideas of deep ecology, plant medicine, and environmental stewardship. Ian’s work is motivated by a sense of dire urgency in regards to the current ecological crises and simultaneously, by a deep and unshakable gratitude for the natural world in all its diversity and resilience.
Ian received a BFA in Fine Arts Studio from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2018. Since graduating they have participated in residency programs such as Caldera Arts in Sisters, OR, and have been awarded several grants including the Artist Initiative Grant through the Minnesota State Arts board and the Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant.
Annie Hejny (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
acrylic and collected Mississippi River water and sediment on canvas
I am a voice for the earth. My lifelong connection with nature has developed into a visual language through abstract paintings and drawings. The waters of Minnesota have fiercely inspired my creative process. I respectfully gather local water and sediment from the shorelines of rivers and lakes to incorporate into my abstract acrylic paintings. Vitality was created with Mississippi River water and sediment from locations along the 120-mile stretch from St. Paul to Winona for my solo exhibition Waterlines at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Blending waters from several sites along the same river allowed me to consider the endurance of this water as it cycles and flows. Creating this painting, more than any other, was physically and emotionally challenging, acknowledging that our human vitality is directly connected to the vitality of the water. We need the water and the water needs us.
Annie Irene Hejny is a visual artist and certified forest therapy guide. She has participated in several notable artist residencies, exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions and was a 2020 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant recipient. She has successfully completed over 50 commissioned projects for galleries, private collections, and public institutions, locally and nationwide. Hejny lives and works in Minneapolis, MN. www.annie-hejny.com
Joan Bemel Iron Moccasin (based in Circle Pines, MN)
Lake Superior Strong, 2019
digital printed in vinyl
Joan Bemel Iron Moccasin
I am interested in combining and revising still images, photographs, and found objects, exploring how they interact and what the results say about the world.
A recurring theme in my work has been the layering of history and memory. I draw on both the past and present as I examine the imprint we leave on our environments and the information we leave behind.
The lakes, rivers, and wetlands of Minnesota have been an essential part of my life. I grew up in Duluth, just two blocks from Lake Superior. I know how powerful and formidable that body of water can be. But it’s also a place to draw strength and purpose. Water is a life-giving force that sustains, heals, and protects us.
Lake Superior Strong combines select parts from Lake Superior, Lake Nokomis, multiple skies, various women, and 3d scanned silk.
This image is of the single parent, the immigrant, the disenfranchised, and all who showed courage, hope, and action during a pandemic. It’s the determination to continue the journey—no matter the difficulty or hardship.
Ethan Jones (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Missouri River: Chamberlain, 2017
archival pigment print mounted on dibond
For several years I have been photographing near waterways that early explorers followed in search of the Northwest Passage. This work is an attempt to observe and speculate what the explorers saw as they made multiple foolhardy decisions in service of their quests. Their attitude was ultimately one that eschewed evidence in favor of personal vision and confirmation bias. My photographs wrestle with this legacy and its impact on the contemporary landscape through centuries of man-made modifications and reclassifications. As I photograph, I seek out and depict instances where the landscape appears malleable and in the midst of continuous change. In this context, change feels ominous appearing as evidence of plans gone awry and revealing the destruction of our known environment. Recording the landscape as it changes is an attempt to understand how we got here while wondering where we are going.
Jes Lee (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Brighton Beach, Kitchi Gammi, May 2018-2019, 2019
Gooseberry Falls, May 2018-2019, 2019
archival inkjet print
I am a photographer, documenting memories of our landscapes. I photograph what we leave behind, our trails left on this earth, what appears, what remains. Using my camera I capture the stories of our fragile home, witness the changes, and attempt to tell her story.
Much of my work focuses on water. I am drawn to it. Our bodies of water hold memory of the space they occupy, how it has changed over the centuries, how the surroundings change. They hold the memory of our footprints on this earth, the memories of centuries of inhabitants within and without.
In this work I have documented a year of Lake Superior’s memories. These photographs were taken with medium format film from the same vantage points at four locations along the north shore. I photographed each location once per month from May 2018 through May 2019. The final journey to these locations was embarked on one year from the date I started, completing the cycle of one year. To create the final images, I layer these photographs on top of one another. Through this process I create an image of one full year of memories of that water and land.
Curt Lund (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Our Lady of the Waters, 2019
I have been an avid collector my entire life — literally since the day I was born, as evidenced by the fact that I still have my tiny hospital wristband. My collecting was driven by a natural curiosity as to the relationship between people and the things they surround themselves with. This led me to a great interest in material culture, the museum world, and the notion of using things (artifacts, artworks, everyday objects) to study and chronicle a culture, to connect the past and present.
Many of my artworks incorporate found objects — items I’ve purposefully collected or just happened to gather over the years. My studio is my basement (everyone’s basement, really): filled with boxes of things that might turn out to be useful someday, might become treasures, or might leave me wondering what in the world I was thinking. My work has taken form in a variety of mediums: sculptural assemblage, artist’s books, installation, printmaking, and mixed media. In some, reference to the act of collecting remains abstract; in others, the act is present literally and physically in the materials used – objects gathered, combined, decontextualized and recontextualized, all in service of transformation and wonder.
Presley Martin (based in Minneapolis, MN)
found polystyrene, wood and latex paint
Out of Round, 2018
found polystyrene and pins
My daily practice of walking and biking through places slowly allows me to open up to whatever is there. It’s this way of being that is my art, more than the art objects I create. I frequently visit the River and during my slow walks along the bank, I began to notice that objects I initially mistook for rocks, pieces of wood, or other unidentifiable chunks of nature were in fact foam. Float is an installation of hundreds of pieces of foam collected from the Mississippi River. The installation reveals a progression from familiar styrofoam objects to samples so degraded and weathered that they are indistinguishable from natural objects. In Float viewers are invited to recreate the experience I had in discovering these objects. The slowly dawning realization of their nature as styrofoam raises questions and conversations about the source of the foam. Where do man-made and nature meet? Are these natural objects?
For the past several years I have been creating and exhibiting a series of works that I collectively call “The Foam Project.” The works in this series are united by the use of found polystyrene foam collected from the Mississippi River and seek to raise questions about our relationship to the River. Out of Round brings to light the connection between our lakes and rivers and the street. Styrofoam cups escape from our vehicles and garbage cans and collect impressions of tires and asphalt on their way to local waterways. Rains wash the styrofoam cups into the Mississippi RIver, where I collect and arrange them in quiet and contemplative forms in order to encourage viewers to construct their own origin stories and consider their own conflicting personal and cultural reactions.
Charles Matson Lume (Based in St Paul, MN)
As if nothing (for Basho) II, 2017
Proofing paper, oil on panel
Charles Matson Lume
Water as a threshold, in particular, an internal threshold, this is one of the common threads within the art I have submitted. Jean Cocteau, in his film, Orpheus, uses a mirror to allow passage for Orpheus. The mirror becomes a space of quicksilver and entrance.
I invite viewers to experience a seemly real, and paradoxically unreal sense of space and image via a water-like quality embodied in my materials and use of light. These are ever changing experiences which mirrors water’s ability to continually change, yet remain the same. Water appears simple, almost nothing. My art seeks those qualities.
These experiences viewers have with my art are meant to resonate internally. I see them as psychological spaces or existing on the edge of a dream state inside one’s body. Like water, my art can seemly slip between thresholds of existence asking what is real and what is a mirage?
My art also seeks to reflect the sense of wonder we experience with water. Whether it is standing on the shore of a world’s largest freshwater lake or staring into a puddle, a sense of curiosity seems to arise through these thresholds, and I promote these qualities of rumination, searching, and visual pleasure in my work.
As a final note, all of my work is ephemeral and dependent upon the quality of light and architecture of a space. I am happy to try to recreate one of the five enclosed pieces. However, I welcome and encourage dialog about creating a new and unique installation for this biennial exhibition at the MMAA.
Jim Meyer (based in Hopkins, MN)
The Lone Pine, 2005
My aim with woodcuts is to make original prints as aesthetic objects in themselves, which also reflect a small part of the immense mystery, beauty, surprise, and sometimes unsightliness of the built and natural/created world. I hope to bring the viewer to unexpected ways of seeing, appreciating, and respecting the landscape.
I’ve been making woodcuts for thirty years, printing directly from hand-carved blocks of wood—cherry, poplar, birch, basswood, or shina. Each print is an original—printed individually by the artist—and not a reproduction. Woodcuts tend to take on graphically bold, authentic, tactile, sometimes primitive aspects which are keys to their distinctive look.
The print, The Lone Pine, is a reduction woodcut, printed from one block of shina wood, depicting a scene from Tettegouche State Park on Minnesota’s north shore.
Ben Moren (based in Minneapolis, MN)
Floating Position (Overview), 2016
My current work leverages technology in the context of filmmaking to create sculptural, performative, and experimental projects outside of traditional filmmaking practices. Floating Position (Overview) presents a section of river in wintertime. A body vigorously tries to stay afloat, moving down screen and appearing on the next. The project mediates the natural world through the performative body in the context of filmmaking. The focus draws into the subtleties of the body’s actions and the transformation of natural spaces. What emerges is a hyperreal situation, which highlights the connection of space, continuity of the image, and the Frame. The displaced body in the wintertime scene offers a subtle narrative asking – If we as humans are now responsible for the natural environment; then what do we really want it to be and look like and how do we exist within it?
Monica Moses Haller*
“Listening to the Mississippi” is an iterative project has unfolded since 2013 with many collaborators. Activating underwater sounds from the Mississippi River and watershed, this work invites listeners to orient themselves to the river through their sense of sound. It invites perceptual adjustments to the river and attunement to critical histories, present and futures both human and non-human.
The video here documents the listening installation that traveled down the Mississippi River in fall 2019 and stopped at specific towns, river banks and levees as part of the HKW Anthropocene Curriculm. Visitors checked out a “listening pack” that included headphones and listening notes encased in felted bag that unfolded into a mat to sit on. Visitors then moved, sat, and listened along the river banks that were accessible to them at their specific location. The sound composition they heard was made by composers Michi Wiancko and Judd Greenstein, who activated sounds recorded by Monica Moses Haller and Sebastian Muellauer along the Mississippi River and watershed from Northern Minnesota to Coastal Louisiana.
Read more about the full project and its collaborators.
Check out your own listening pack and hear the composition at Pickerel Lake.
Dates to be announced at mmaa.org.
Pickerel Lake, Lilydale Road, St. Paul, MN
Sarah Nassif (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Ripple Effect, 2019
natural fibers, recycled cloth, and copper pipe
Collection of Great River Coalition
With a degree in botany, I come to art as an environmental educator and public artist creating interventions that bring people face to face with the natural world and each other. Community connections buffer us through difficult circumstances. Nature, often hidden in plain sight, can calm us.
My work focuses on nature that surrounds us where we live and engages the public in looking at and learning about nature in unexpected ways. My projects produce tactile artifacts in the form of botanical sketches, field books and printed or woven textiles. In 2018, I began exploring bodies of water and considering how handcraft activities combined with the experience of nature affect our emotional state. Recent research reveals how our mental health is supported both by work with our hands and direct interaction with nature.
I install a pop-up textile studio on the banks of a body of water and engage people in using this water in the processes of dyeing, spinning and weaving. Participants choose from recycled cloth, raw wool and flax, and balls of thrifted yarn and embed unique patterns in the fiber using simple shibori techniques and an organic indigo dye vat. The resulting lengths of blue and white yarn and cloth are incorporated on a SAORI loom by participants to produce a collaboratively woven work. Weaving and handling fibers has a profound effect on participants, sparking a feeling of familiarity, calm and joy even if they’ve never done fiber art before. The experience of the pop up fiber studio illustrates our ability to solve complex problems and work together no matter what our starting point is.
Lisa Nebenzahl (based in Richfield, MN)
duo-tone polymer photogravure diptych
Lisa Nebenzahl is an interdisciplinary artist and photographer whose work explores themes of fragility, resilience, loss and persistence. These ideas are explored in the natural world of plants, water and flowers. This work strives to both affirm the beauty and power of change and remind us of our shared temporal condition.
The duo-toned photogravure diptych Fall | Cloud is from a series titled ‘Looking Through’. In this series Nebenzahl works with water and sky images collected at the Baptism River in northern Minnesota, where Nebenzahl often photographs, and in her backyard, where she frequently documents the changing skies. The relationship of water and sky is one where both congruence and likeness is found.
Fall | Cloud places the viewer between the river and the sky, allowing observation of both at the same time. The photogravure process allows the use of subtle and strong color and imparts a tactile rendering of the image
Lisa Nebenzahl holds a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. She exhibits her work nationally and has received support for her work including the 2020 McKnight Fellowship for Book Artists and three Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grants.
Kimber Olson (based in Eden Prairie, MN)
Reed, Root and Rhizome, 2020
“Reed, Root and Rhizome” references a wetland buffer zone. More than 200 tall grass reeds stand like sentinels, each serving as both barrier and vessel to protect the wetland environment. A buffer strip serves many critical roles: filtering harmful nutrients from groundwater, mitigating flooding, and providing habitat for wildlife. On its own, a single reed could not withstand the harsh elements, and yet in its communal context the individual thrives and possesses power to transform its environment. Not unlike human communities, wetland ecosystems rely on interdependent relationships, collaboration and resource sharing to sustain their viability.
The Trump administration reduced water protections that had been enforced since the Clean Water Act of 1972. In January 2020 the previous administration finalized a rule that stripped away protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, resulting in the biggest loss of clean water protection the nation has ever experienced, and putting millions of Americans at risk of polluted water. “Reed, Root and Rhizome” provides a reminder of what’s at stake.
Nearly a year of studio practice was dedicated to design and production of this installation. Individual reeds were constructed with organic materials like wool and silk. More than 100 yards of silk were hand painted, then laminated with wool fibers using the process of wet felting. The installation is supported by PVC rods and a steel platform that was fabricated by Heather Doyle at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center.
By manipulating materials into visual narratives that are reflective of organic systems and their structural components, I’m able to draw attention to beauty and simultaneously cast light on environmental threats. I want viewers to see, feel and locate themselves in the art and in their environments.
I am deeply grateful to the Minnesota State Arts Board for making this project possible through an Artist Initiative Grant.
Kimber Olson is a 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Lega
cy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
Kimber Olson is a fiscal year 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Kristin Maija Peterson (based in Eagan, MN)
The Crown, 2019
graphite and watercolor on paper
Kristin Maija Peterson*
Everything that falls to the land eventually lands in the water. It’s why I have a deep reverence for native plants and the essential services they provide.
I’ve lived close to waterways most of my life in Minnesota and ever-present are native plants nearby or growing in adjoining expanses of prairie. These are my playgrounds and drawing has always been my way of expressing the world around me. As artist and graphic designer, I’m reunited with native plants through my work with environmental nonprofits. This has shaped my work’s direction and use it to open dialogues on the importance of planting rain gardens and native plants to protect our waterways, transforming yards into habitats, making lawns resilient — practical actions vital in the face of climate change.
My reverence for native plants is represented in portraiture of the individual, not in summer bloom but when they appear as frost has weathered them. I find native plants noble and intriguing at this stage where I am left to discover landscapes within a landscape found in their intricate details. I know they’re still working, providing services as they return to the earth to replenish the soil and begin a new season.
Sonja Peterson (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
I employ motifs of native and non-native plants and animals, underground roots, nets and vine-like growths of the terrestrial and aquatic world to create hanging landscapes. The slow process of cutting visual networks is an action that fulfills a need to unravel a truth within the endless matrix of information that I negotiate in today’s world. The works structural integrity is, at times, reliant on its interconnectivity, if elements disconnect the entire system is in threat of collapse.
My work has included the agricultural, finance and trade systems’ relationship to the environment. I have considered current global systems as something of untamed wonder, a gaze that was once reserved for the natural world. I create vast networked cut paper cuts that include imagery of invasive and exotic flora and fauna while considering these systems to question our perceptions of untamed beauty. I look at historical events and science to absorb present day dilemmas … I don’t offer answers but I attempt loose comparative analysis through imaginative narratives that pull from across times.
Within this piece you will find invasives in the Mississippi Watershed, including silver carp, sea lamprey, ruffe, round goby, Eurasian milfoil, non-native water lilies, flowering rush, zebra mussels, grayfish, and sea cabbage
Click here for additional images
Sonja Peterson (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Submerged (detail), 2017
Niki Pico (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
velvet, satin ribbon, brass tacks
‘Generations’ is a textile panel of traditional Winnebago/HoChunk appliqué design to represent the water spirit clan of the Winnebago as well as our respect, relationship and responsibility for one of our most precious natural resources. A single red ribbon flowing down the center of the panel to signify the bloodline of generations.
Niki Pico is a Winnebago Dakota self-taught artist from the Twin Cities.
Alison Price (based in Burnsville, Minnesota)
Growing Community, 2019
acrylic on canvas
The Mississippi River Gorge and her wealth of heritage trees has always intrigued me. This series pays respect to these gentle witnesses of migration and settlement along our mighty river, these magnificent, steadfast trees. The trees acknowledge the contribution of all of our respective backgrounds and ancestries. It is our collective heritage that makes this place a culturally rich and diverse place to call home. The trees welcome all, without discrimination.
Growing Community 48” x 60”. Fear is a horrible thing. It divides. It isolates. Greeting new ideas, concepts, people, places, and cultures with curiosity, open hearts and open minds fosters strong communities. The trees are warmly greet new arrivals, weary after their long journeys, literal, and otherwise. The bounty of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers is shared.
Alison Price holds a BA in Studio Art from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN and a MA in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin. Her art is collected nationally and internationally, including collections at the new FBI Headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Capital One, Sons of Norway, and BKV Group. This series, Witnessing Waves, aired on MN Original November 18, 2018, TPTV2, PBS.
Lindsey Rhyner (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
acrylic and dye on fabric
Often, the subject matter for my work comes from my dreams. I frequently dream of waterslides and I am fascinated by them. I love the aesthetics and design of waterslides and the way they seem to flow and twist in the landscape like a plastic snake, carrying the water down in a smooth motion. After a night on the internet searching for pictures and information about water slides around the world, I was inspired to create this piece.
Shlitterbahn translated from German means slippery road. It is the name of a water park in Kansas City where the world’s largest waterslide was built in 2016. About a year later the slide was decommissioned and demolished because a fatal accident occurred. The accident was due to rushed construction improper testing of the slide.
There are many ways humans control, divert and use water to their advantage. It can change whole landscapes, irrigate dry places and create energy through dams and diversions. In the case of water parks it can be used to create leisure activity while also integrating into the landscape, using hills and gravity to move the water down.
Controlling such a force of nature is not always pleasant and successful.
The more extreme water control and manipulation gets the more water seems to fight back in equal measure. Weather, drought and erosion are hard to control and many times, human interference seems to make problems worse causing floods and polluting waterways.
I often have dreams about being tossed about in the ocean’s waves, feeling a general anxiety about being in the water and not being able to get out to save myself from drowning. I wanted to portray the anxiety of not being able to control water, or not to see it coming until it is too late. This piece shows a group of twisty water slides. The water exits at the end of the chute and melds with pavement and structure of the waterpark. On the left side a wave looms over the scene, threatening to engulf it all.
Hand sewn wall hanging made of recycled textiles. Details in color are manipulated through use of dye and acrylic. Almost all materials are from second hand sources such as thrift stores and garage sales. Inspired by a picture of an abandoned water slide found on the internet. The piece is named after a famously dangerous water park and is about the anxiety and difficulty of controlling water.
Mona Smith (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Cloudy Waters: Dakota Reflections on the River, 2005
Through her work, Mona Smith calls for a shift in consciousness. “What would our work [on this earth] look like if we put the indigenous perspective first?,” she has asked. What does it mean to live in ongoing acknowledgement of relationship to place? To continually seek to understand the histories that brought each of us to the place where we stand? To make these efforts life-long commitments? You are standing on the traditional and contemporary homelands of the Dakhóta people here in Imni Ża Ska, now known as St. Paul, a place name which refers to the white bluffs along the river, which flows just beneath us.
In this video, Smith weaves Dakhóta reflections on the river and the spiritual importance of water with accounts of the trauma resulting from Minnesota’s history of brutal genocide and forced dispossession of Dakhóta people, specifically the Dakhóta hanged in Mankato during the US-Dakhóta War of 1862. One of the wisdoms Smith has shared as co-founder of the Healing Place Collaborative is that knowing what has happened in the past is a crucial part of the healing process.
As you experience Smith’s Cloudy Waters, take a moment to thank the river, our teacher and life giver. Smith has extended these additional thanks: “Too many technical artists, interviewers, generous Dakhóta people who offered their voices, funders, supporters to thank. But this project changed my life and the gratitude to all is eternal.”
Moheb Soliman (based in Minneapolis MN)
HOMES, pg 1: From jots at probably Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto when this all started, 2021
vinyl (poem installation, media variable)
Moheb Soliman’s debut poetry collection HOMES is part postmodern nature poetry, part immigrant travelogue, rendering the natural-cultural sprawl of the Great Lakes region and seeking to inhabit it all as one place, one giant sublime home. Against the backdrop of environmental destruction, recreation and tourism industries, and colonial history and identity politics, the book brings an vibrant ecopoetic lens to bear on the relationship between transience and belonging in the world’s largest, most porous borderland. HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) is an accumulation of poems written over a decade of immersive travel and diverse projects and partnerships throughout the region.
Soliman is an interdisciplinary poet from Egypt and the Midwest. In 2019, he was in residence at the M, where he came looking for images of the Great Lakes in the museum’s collection. His explorations took an unexpected turn to the M’s database, through which he was accessing information and images of these landscapes. In a resulting multimedia artwork called Landscape (of all landscapes) that is now part of the M’s permanent collection, Soliman takes up questions of record keeping, absence, belonging, and the bureaucracy, management, and distance of modern nature.
Sandra Spieler (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Shared Table, spanning 1990-present
Water calls me to attention daily. For 40 years my deep love and gratitude for Water and my deep concern for its protection have been at the center of my work.
I seek to open heart, mind, action and joy for the care of the Water that Connects the World. All of my work for the Water is grounded with reverence and encourages reflection and action.
Part of my work for the Water involves pairing striking visual image with participatory performance. For instance, in 1983 propelled by the proliferation of nuclear plants and other pollutants affecting the River, I initiated the epic Circle of Water Circus to travel the entire length of the Mississippi River calling for the River to be recognized as an artery of Life rather than the sewage line it had become. In 2007-8, Invigorate the Common Well tied series of questions of quantity, quality and equity to the care of our Water through the lens of a broken drinking fountain. Since 2009 Are You Thirsty? has traveled throughout Minnesota to provoke care of Water by investigating all the ways each and all lives are intertwined with Water.
I have created much work for the Water- tiny paintings, huge banners, posters, murals, epic and small performances, peep boxes of Water curiosities, sculptures, and videos that might be useful for your exhibit. In 2017, Forecast Public Art and the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee commissioned me to create an exhibit in the Minneapolis Government Center using pieces from my Water work spanning the many years. The work drew people into attention and quandary for the need to rise on behalf of the Water, a need that is unfortunately increasing. Because I do not know what you are looking for, I am submitting 3 images from this exhibit. (Sorry about the poor quality of the photos, I was not smart enough to document this well)
Shared Table: Here, many beings gather around the table for a sacramental sip of shared water. (Yes, one of these beings is a human). Invoking the famous painting of “the last supper”, this also helps us know a Council of All Beings who gather at a table of reckoning. What if all deliberations affecting Water happen so that all voices matter?– all the beings, and Water itself? What if ?!
Cabinets of Water Curiosity: Questions about Water paired with questions of responsibilities. From a series of 6 boxes, this box: A Watershed Runs Through You
Who is Responsible? : Water falls from the sky. As it flows into the River it passes through stations of human use– agriculture, cars and impervious surfaces, lawns, industry. Why does the Water we drink at the Headwaters end up as the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Who is responsible?? (sorry this is a really bad photo, but good content!)
Find more of my work for the Water at my website: sandyspieler.com/water-work/
Thank you !
Holly Newton Swift (based in Edina, MN)
Light Interplay, 2013
charcoal on paper
Holly Newton Swift*
I am passionate about Minnesota’s Northern Wilderness. Its remote and pristine locations have been the single most important subject matter of my work. For 20 years I have been returning to the exact same spots in Cascade River State Park. Such a constant return has allowed me to add memory, history, and time, permitting me to create work that is both observational and deeply layered philosophically.
Waterfalls have, for a millennium, been revered as sacred spaces. They are beautiful, mesmerizing and dangerous structures holding form through their constant movement. I am fascinated by the relationship between geologic structure and falling water and see the event of waterfall as a profound symbol for life, change and death.
In “Light Interplay” the transparent veils of charcoal and the movement of light and dark throughout the work, invites the viewer to contemplate the emergence into the energy and transience of falling water.
Working directly from observation and returning to the same locations, I enter into a silent discourse between materials, visual fluctuations, and my internal scape. I make numerous studies on location, which I bring back to the studio and become the basis for larger scale work. On location, I am immersed in an experience of nature. In the studio, I am immersed in the artistic meditation of that experience.
Keith Taylor is a London-born artist who now lives in Minneapolis. His photographs have been widely exhibited across the US and the UK, he is a four-time recipient of Individual Artist fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and his photographs are held in private, corporate and museum collections. In 2011 he was awarded a Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation mentorship. Taylor has written for photographic publications and he teaches workshops on historical processes. Where possible he uses contemporary techniques to facilitate these processes, substituting safer, more environmentally friendly chemicals for the more toxic originals.
These photographs were made in response to the subtle light around natural bodies of water, and they were printed in a way that encourages rich and mysterious shadows. The water‘s surface creates a smooth and reflective break in the textured landscape. These images are printed in platinum-palladium, a process that dates back to the 1860s. Each print is hand-made by brushing the paper with an even coating of light-sensitive chemicals containing platinum and palladium metals and then exposing the final-sized negative to ultraviolet light. Because platinum and palladium are inert metals and not susceptible to oxidization, the prints have archival properties far in excess of most other photographic processes.
Moira Villiard (based in Duluth, MN)
Waters of Tomorrow, 2019
acrylic and oil on canvas
“The Waters of Tomorrow” is influenced by the Anishinaabe teaching that our water today is the same water our ancestors drank from; it’s the same water they took care of just enough to leave for us, and it’s the water we must choose to leave in better condition for those that come after us. Water is a finite resource that physically connects all generations of humanity, through play, sustenance, prayer, and more.
In the broader context, this piece is part of a recent series of work I’ve done exploring childhood and children’s rights. To be a child today, or a child of any day, is to know the reality of your own experience out of context, and to be a reflection of tomorrow. From what I’ve learned so far, none of the contexts should ever end on a single opinion or conversation.
I am a multidisciplinary artist from the Fond du Lac Reservation whose primary medium is painting; stylistically, my artwork ebbs and pulls between the realms of portraiture, illustration and dreamlike surrealism, overlapping elements of my Indigenous heritage, personal relationships, and contemporary issues.
Megan Vossler (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Untitled (Breaker), 2016
graphite on paper
Megan Vossler (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Life Preserver (Child’s Size), 2016
Drawing has always been my primary practice, especially large-scale graphite drawings on paper that can envelop the field of vision, typically between six and ten feet wide. I generally work in a meticulous way, and I prefer to work large because it allows for so many small areas of detail for storytelling. I’m interested in the metaphorical and narrative possibilities of landscape representation. My work is figurative, pursuing an open-ended sense of narrative: I depict trees, cliffs, oceans, and rivers as living characters that can both act independently and react to the populations that pass through them. In my drawings, the landscape and its inhabitants are mutually engaged: they reflect and respond to each other. Threatening circumstances, and the uncertainty of help, have been ongoing themes of mine, and the images I create are often evidence of unseen forces or earlier events that have left visible traces. I’m drawn to the remnants of catastrophe, and the possibility of regeneration, because I’m interested in resilience: in the ways we incorporate (both physically and mentally) our histories, adjust, adapt, and persevere, and the ways nature does the same.
Currently, I am making work about the literal and metaphorical power of water: specifically, ocean swells and waves. Growing up on the California coast, my favorite time to visit the ocean was during a storm, when the water was at its most unsettled. I would watch the surface contort and erupt as I looked for glimpses of what was underneath. Invisible forces surround you in the ocean—from methodical tidal contractions to the most unpredictable, deadly undertow. I’m intrigued by the way the artist Roni Horn has described water as both a noun and a verb: as both an identity in itself, and yet also as something best known in relation to the things with which it interacts. Water connects, transports, carries, submerges and drowns. It cleans, dilutes, and erodes. Ocean passageways sometimes shepherd and sometimes erase the migrant populations that look to them for hope. And as the seas warm and expand from climate change, their unpredictability increases. Ghost forests are created within brackish floodwaters, and islands rise in place of melted glaciers, fundamentally transforming our landscape. My current work engages with these themes.
Josh Winkler (based in St. Peter, MN)
Death by a billion cuts & the breaking of log jams, 2020
Direct experience and research feed the content and connections that are important to me as an artist. The environmental and cultural tragedies of the past provide an emotive way to engage the high stakes of the present. As we seek new sources of energy and make decisions about land use, it’s critical that we have tangible connections to the land and understand what has already been lost. By combining personal experience with research, I build layered landscape narratives that reflect on an uncomfortable disconnect between contemporary Americans and the history of the land. I utilize a range of drawing, printmaking, and sculptural processes to facilitate these ideas.
Visiting a small patch of remaining old-growth white pine, it’s easy to imagine how the vast white pine ecosystems of Minnesota once rivaled the complex drama of any old-growth forest. They were an infinite resource. They were a cultural resource. As these great forests brought wealth to settler communities at the turn of the century, native peoples watched the great rivers carry their homeland to the sawmill in less than 15 years. The log jam imagery was gathered from the Minnesota Archives with focus on the breaking of historic log jams by hand and with dynamite on Minnesota rivers.