November 16, 2008

The story of Jumpin’ Jasmine

The longest baby in Prince George
Jasmine Wallace was born in the interior of Canada in the town of Prince George. Although I was unable to determine whether the record still stands, at the time of her birth she was the longest baby ever born in Prince George at 2 feet and 11 pounds. Since her birth and the age of 20 she has moved 30 times.

You may have noticed that Jasmine is pretty tall; in high school she was a basketball player, center forward. The announcer at school games would announce her as Jumpin' Jasmine and recite her point totals for the game.

Jasmine was also a high school dropout, something that seems to add to her cred. She finished high school while living with her Grandmother in Vancouver via a correspondence course.

Part of the reason why she moved so much while growing up was because of the conflict between her Mom and Grandmother and the rest of the family who were Jehovah's Witnesses. They would move away when the conflict was at its worst and move back during periods of reconciliation. She has lived often in both Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. While living on Vancouver Island she had an ATV or four wheeler.

Her Mother and Grandmother are both artists, described by Jasmine as folk artists, art making has always been around her growing up. Her work when she started school here was greatly influenced by the 35W bridge collapse. She now makes work about cities and structures decaying and failing, often working with the clay by firing it to the point where it begins to melt and fail. She is fascinated by the way that energy is carried through a structure.

Jasmine's likes:
Minnesota happy hour; in Canada the amount of alcohol that goes into a drink is strictly regulated, here it is the bartender's discretion (or lack thereof). She likes to eat at the many restaurants on Nicollet, such as Jasmine Deli, Peninsula and Pancho Villa to name a few.
Her favorite drink is Crown Royal which is a rye whiskey that comes in a fancy velvet bag.

November 13, 2008

Interview with Jason

On November 4th I interviewed Jason in his studio. When I waked in he had a sprawling installation set up. There were branches wrapped with various colored streamers and pipe cleaners. At the base or starting point was a pile of dirt. Jason was amidst of creating his newest work.
I asked Jason what he saw his work as. He told me that it was mixed media or rather a better term he used was a hybrid of media. He doesn’t limit himself to one or a couple of materials. He will use what ever strikes him at the moment. When he described his process in making work in relation to form versus content he had a great metaphor that sums it up. He sees it as like lighting a candle, the flame being the initial drive. As the wax melts his content begins to form. The wax (content) expands as he process goes on. This explanation leads to new projects and off shoots of the original flame. Jason’s work is collaboration with the materials and his insight. It is a push and pull experience.

November 7, 2008

Jazzmans interview of Josh

I interviewed Josh on two occassions, once at Lauras halloween party and a second time after that in his studio.I interviewed him a second time because we were worried about the sillyness of the first interview. But Josh is much more himself in the first interview and more revealing about his work so we decided to post the first interview.

Please cut and paste

Rashad B

This is my email interview with Rachad B. I sent him a series of questions, he answered and I’ve responded to his answers in( )’s to make it more of a conversation. The digital interview was a little odd but it did allow us to use information that isn’t necessarily memorized in our brains:

I know your work references where you grew up & the kind of neighborhoods you’ve lived in. You mentioned in your talk, shotgun houses, and you said things like “from frying pan to skillet.? I’d like to get more of a feel for where you came from, and what your life has been like thus far. Feel free to relate this to your work.

Has living in Minneapolis, working at the nomad, being in art school
directly affected your work. I guess I wonder how your current personal
experience figures into what you make.

What is an idea or theory or concept that you’ve been thinking about
lately, something that has been heavily on your mind most recently?

In your studio we talked about the political animal in relation to networks of bees and ants. Could you tell me a little more about this idea and how you do or intend to express this in your work.

That’s all I have. Feel free to expand on these questions, get off topic or whatever feels comfortable.


Living in a larger and culturally different city has affected my outlook on the rest of the world/humanity more than it has affected my work. It takes time for me to process that information and purposely fuse it with my work. But it definitely has some affect. My work tends to lean in a very dark and somber direction. I've experienced an upbringing in many unpleasant environments throughout most of my life and I've had interactions with very cruel people. Not much has changed with the move to Minneapolis. Interestingly enough, working at the Nomad has shown me that some of the happiest and most content people I've come across are a part of the bar scene/culture. One of the most important things I've learned as a bartender, in that specific style of bar, is the necessity to build a client base of people that can benefit from what I have to offer besides inebriation. This same client base returns to the bar, in part, because of the enjoyable atmosphere that bartenders help to create. It's an escape for me. A place that I can go and be with others who want nothing else but to escape the torments and stress that fill their lives. For these people, bars are the escape and many individuals seem very welcoming of pleasant dialogue and good times. That's an atmosphere I've only experienced, to this degree, with 8 years experience in the service industry.

(What you said about the bar scene is great, I’ve been involved in similar bar scenes. Working shitty day jobs and drinking out each night with hords of people doing the same thing. There is something to say about that way of life. It’s not all good or bad, but there is always something happening and that is important.)

A concept that I've thought about lately has been human apathy. The ability for one person to totally detach themselves from any concern outside of themselves. Without a trace of feeling, sympathy, or thought for others. The bitter cold of human consciousness. A further investigation of human apathy in relation to dialogue, confrontation, and death is something that has weighed heavily on my mind lately.

(ultimately we only care about ourselves, for the most part anyway. We talked about this in a crit class I had once in a discussion of what beauty is. One person said that when you see beauty you are not, for that moment at least, the center of the universe. What your talking about is much colder & self-centered, it makes me think of fighting vandalism, or hate. I’ve had a handful of dreams where I was being stabbed to death, And as I lay there helpless, I felt omniscent and ok and I’d would try to make a very personal and human connection with my eyes to the stabber’s eyes while he stuck me. In the dreams, I can never make the connection but I keep trying until I’m gone.)

I'm not really sure on how it will come across in my work, but I'll leave you with an excerpt from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. This is the source of my content.

"It is true that certain living creatures, as bees and ants, live sociably one with another (which are therefore by Aristotle numbered amongst political creatures), and yet have no other direction than their particular judgments and appetites; nor speech, whereby one of them can signify to another what he thinks expedient for the common benefit: and therefore some man may perhaps desire to know why mankind cannot do the same. To which I answer,

First, that men are continually in competition for honour and dignity,
which these creatures are not; and consequently amongst men there ariseth on that ground, envy, and hatred, and finally war; but amongst these not so.

Secondly, that amongst these creatures the common good differeth not from the private; and being by nature inclined to their private, they procure thereby the common benefit. But man, whose joy consisteth in comparing himself with other men, can relish nothing but what is eminent.

Thirdly, that these creatures, having not, as man, the use of reason, do not see, nor think they see, any fault in the administration of their common business: whereas amongst men there are very many that think themselves wiser and abler to govern the public better than the rest, and these strive to reform and innovate, one this way, another that way; and thereby bring it into distraction and civil war.

Fourthly, that these creatures, though they have some use of voice in
making known to one another their desires and other affections, yet they want that art of words by which some men can represent to others that which is good in the likeness of evil; and evil, in the likeness of good; and augment or diminish the apparent greatness of good and evil, discontenting men and troubling their peace at their pleasure.

Fifthly, irrational creatures cannot distinguish between injury and damage; and therefore as long as they be at ease, they are not offended with their fellows: whereas man is then most troublesome when he is most at ease; for then it is that he loves to show his wisdom, and control the actions of them that govern the Commonwealth.

Lastly, the agreement of these creatures is natural; that of men is by
covenant only, which is artificial: and therefore it is no wonder if there be somewhat else required, besides covenant, to make their agreement constant and lasting; which is a common power to keep them in awe and to direct their actions to the common benefit."

(It’s great to have this idea outlined so concisely. It opens a lot of doors. Ignorant artful socialism?, it’s like a managed tiered society, Brave New World-ish, but with the insects it’s not dark, it light, it’s nature. It’s like all the parts of the massive tree working together to get water from the earth all the way up to the leaves. How nature makes the best of any situation in a natural mechanical way. I wonder how you will/are conveying this idea in your sculpture, whether it be vague, obvious, or what.

This may be unrelated but the stuff about the fault of reason and also empathy made me think of Voltaire, in his Candide where the main character suffers the most terrible hardships one might imagine but he goes on repeatedly saying, it is how it is, there is no other way for it to be, his main quote is “this is the best of all possible worlds.? If you haven’t read Candide, you may be interested. It directly and repeatedly comments on human apathy. I think he is criticizing the reason of the enlightenment.

I’ve also been looking at a book of Wallace Stephens essays where he faults reason in the resolution of reality. The book is called “The Necessary Angel.? The imagination is the necessary angel of the book title. He says poets and artists go at finding reality with their imaginations while philosophers apply reason to explain reality. The problem with the philosophs is that they never get anywhere, they just compile theories then die. The art people present their insides in their work, their realities. They give us something tangible to deal with, something individual. What is more real and human than the inside of an individuals mind? Wallace says it “Reality is not the eternal scene, but the life lived in it.? The philosophs give us clouds. The poets give us angels.)

Pardon the woodiness of all this, but it seemed appropriate to respond to your responses. Feel free to re-respond if you’d like.

Juanita Berrio Lesmes --International Artist

Juanita Berrio is currently a MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. She has known since she was a child that she was destined to become an artist. She grew up in Colombia and moved to Italy to attend college. When choosing what subject to study, she was divided between social sciences and art, but ultimately decided art was her calling. As a child, she was taught that an artist was a painter. Berrio studied painting and expanded her artistic practice to include photography, digital media, sculpture, and installation while she was teaching Art History in Colombia. During the 3 years she was teaching, she realized the expansive media possibilities for creating art.

She has since explored collage through combining photographs, fabrics, and paintings. In these compositions, she juxtaposes good and evil, poor and rich, pretty and ugly, pure and impure,… Within these groupings, she is reacting against the categorical division of the world.

Life experience is the most important influence on her work. During college she studied Alchemy, war and postwar (In-formalism). Juanita had a strong desire to understand the effects of such events on art. These interests are linked to the tragic loss of her grandfather at the early age of eight. Berrio’s grandfather (her mother’s father) was murdered. He was a retire General of the Columbian Army and Juanita had deep admiration for him.

This event has had a deep impact on her life and humanity. Working through the difficulty of this situation has helped her narrow her conceptual focus to ideas surrounding healing, reconciliation, time, dialog, and memory. She has strong ideas about how art experiences can aid in rebuilding communities. Berrio is interested in working in domestic environments to see how people work through problems. She feels that these places allow individuals to behavior openly and honestly because of the familiarity.

Through her work, she wants her audience to question how you place yourself in social context, and how you place “others? in the same social context and why. Juanita’s strategy is to draw her audience in through strong aesthetics, which led to uncovering the layers of ideas.

Currently, she is preparing a collage of photographs for an exhibition in Montevideo, Uruguay at the Goethe Institute Gallery. Within each photo is a different scene of toy plastic figurines in varying situations. Berrio feels that the mass-produced characters represent us as a community, as well as, individuals. The photographs set up choreographed interactions, which in some scenes juxtaposing opposites (ex: army soldiers and ballerinas). These toys are cultural icons which relate to history and memory within the frames.

If Juanita could meet any artist (living or passed), she would like to meet Maria Teresa Hincapie. Hincapie was a performance artist who focused on the ideas of ritual and domestic. She had a love and respect of nature.

The Process of Ambiguity: Interviewing Jessica Teckemeyer

By Juana Berrio

Convinced that the only thing she doesn’t like about art is its wrong “elite reputation?, Jessica Teckemeyer is actively creating fascinating sculptures that reveal and make us conscious of our relationship with our own bodies, our consumerist instincts, and the natural and metropolitan environments we have contact with.

Native of the small community of Frazee, in the Midwestern American State of Minnesota, Teckemeyer received her BFA from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2004, where she fell in love with sculpture and engaged in a material and conceptual conversation with it. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Minnesota, where she works and interacts with other important and worldwide recognized artists such Josh Winkler, Jasmine Wallace, Peter Thompson, Meng Tang, Chad Rutter, Laura Primozic, Lindsay Montgomery, Jason Gaspar, David Donovan, Rashad Butler, T.J. Barnes, and Juana Berrio.

During her high school years, when the “what career question? started to be present in her mind, she was specially attracted by the idea of studying art. However, the way she got to her final decision was quite unusual. She still remembers that subjects such as Math, Science or English came pretty easy to her, but what about art? “Art was challenging because it took me more effort, so I was intrigued by that.? As it is true for many artists, at certain point she also considered the possibility of being involved in a more commercial carrier such as design, but then she realized that art made her think more because she couldn’t easily figure it out.

During the transitional semesters of the beginning of college, she decided to continue taking some chemistry courses while she was entering in the “art world?. Nowadays, she admits that those chemistry college courses, plus having a chemist aunt, have influenced her current artwork with the “problem solving process?, which is an essential ingredient in her artistic practice. In fact, the process of making her works is probably one of the things Teckemeyer enjoys the most. And there is no doubt about it since she works with a wide variety of materials like fiberglass, plaster, fabric, feathers, and even balloons!

Some of the works that have contributed Teckemeyer to gain recognition and create her unique artist language are her interactive sculptures. The aims of these texture-based pieces are to highlight the fact that we experience everything through our senses and to give people the opportunity to be aware and connected with their own bodies. In addition, she loves the idea that, while the audience interacts with her pieces, they may feel that they are interacting with art, and somehow this may help them to be more interested in art in general.

Despite the fact that Teckemeyer’s work is always changing and has explored different territories, she recognizes there is a common link, a connection among all her pieces. She believes each project takes her to the next one, especially when it comes to their physicality and material process. After using some materials in one project, she continues with the next one in a progressive or oppositional way. Some times, she continues using the same technique and process, but after working with some processes, such as fiberglass, which is very toxic and requires a specific outfit, she will probably try to work with fabric or something non-toxic. The decisions she makes about her artistic process are not only related with the concept of her pieces themselves, but also depend on the relationship between the materials and her body.

Although Teckemeyer does not recall a single specific life experience that has marked her artwork, she believes that all experiences get translated in the artist work, “there are specific things that are tight to your environment.? For example, she thinks that her projects based on the idea of consumerism and materialized through several interiors of purses made out of plaster, could be understood anywhere in America, because “it kind of mimics our environment.? Nonetheless, she also believes that some site-specific experiences and ideas could be also understood in different contexts. This is the case of her most recent work, which will be exhibited in November at the Goethe Institute Gallery in Montevideo, Uruguay. In this piece “I talk a about the duality of the Minnesota I love, between the metropolitan and the natural environment?. Regardless of its specific Minnesota’s essence, she thinks this installation is open and could be understood anywhere, because of the rural and urban contrast it reveals.
In fact, Teckemeyer’s work has a particular ambiguous character that is always inviting you to decode. Is it because she already resolved her intriguing high school question about art and now wants us to figure it out?

November 6, 2008

Chad Rutter has a chat with Peter Haakon Thompson

CHAD: You seem to have two practices: the personal photographic work and the collaborative public work. Which is more satisfying to you right now?

PHT: Right now I’m more interested in the collaborative, socially engaged projects. The art shanties were sort of like that, but not really since that started as something that I just wanted to do and it grew into something that engaged the community. I think the mobile projection thing was a little different. That sort of started with the community and grew. I’m trying to now figure out what the content of the projects can be as a community tells me what it is. It does seem simpler to just do the photos and not deal with a bunch of people and that's nice sometimes, but I’m more interested in the collaborations.

CHAD: What would need to happen in order for you to consider a public art project successful?

PHT: If it did something for the people I was trying to work with I guess. Definitely something that I want the art to do is help expand what other people think art is or what it can be. Claire Bishop seems to be someone that addresses a lot of what I've been thinking about and I actually went to see her when she spoke at the Walker. With that whole "collaboration or the aesthetic" thing I do think I'm somewhere in the middle. I don’t just want to measure the success by the collaboration, but also stress the aesthetic.

CHAD: Have you ever conducted a collaborative project that you felt was a failure?

PEACH TEA: (Pause while thinking) Some of the stuff we did over the summer with the projection project couldn't necessarily be considered a failure since it was so research based and we kind of gave ourselves the freedom to fail at times, but it definitely feels like there wasn’t always enough time and effort put into realizing each installation of the work.

CHAD: Going back to your more personal photographic work, why has the self-portrait stayed with you for so long? What is important to you about putting some part of yourself into so many of your photos?

PHT: Partly I think it’s practical. It seems to add a lot to an image of a landscape to put a figure in it. Also in a literal sense, these have been about my experience with these places. It seemed natural to put me in there as opposed to someone else, which would kind of put a layer between me and my being there. Also it was easier to just be able to do some weird motion with my body and capture it myself rather than telling someone else to do it.

CHAD: You mentioned that your father was a photographer and that you originally resisted it for that reason. Why did you decide that you wanted to be an artist (photographer or not) in the first place? What prompted you to go to art school in California?

PHT: When I first started taking the teen art classes at MCAD in Jr. High and early high school. I think that decided it for me. This might sound cliche, but I wanted to originally be an artist or a scientist, but I was failing chemistry and suddenly realized that it had a lot to do with math and I was horrible at math. I realized a lot of that stuff just didn’t come naturally to me.

CHAD: So you failed Chemistry?

PHT: No, I actually dropped it because I was failing it. But the teen art classes at MCAD were exciting. (thinking pause) I think it could have been the smell of art school. MCAD has a certain smell to it, like the print shops and the oil paint and graphite. So why did I go to California? I had kind of a romantic view of California and I guess art school is just a good time to go somewhere else for a while.

CHAD: How important has the Minnesota art community been in shaping your artistic practice? Have you always felt connected to it or have there been times you were kind of on your own?

PHT: When I first moved back from California, I didn’t feel like I was part of the community here at all. That took a while. I think it is a great community here and I feel like there were a lot of ways to enter into it so that I could do projects that were not just photographic.

CHAD: Your photos and the art shanties project seem to be very much about landscape and place at their core, and it could be argued that the mobile projector project was as well. Is this important to you? What is your relationship to landscape and place?

PHT: I guess just the fact that I feel pretty strong connection to place and it is important to me. I don’t think I could be living in New York and feel the same connection to that place that I do living and working here.

CHAD: Why is that?

PHT: I think it’s partly just the density of people. Maybe it makes it feel less special because there are so many people there. Harder to have a personal connection. Part of my connection to place and landscape is a lot about how the land actually feels and the physical sensation of that. Cities are not my ideal place to feel that. Minneapolis is nice because it's easy to get out of. It seems it would be harder on the east coast to get to that land and space. It would be harder to find the middle of nowhere.

CHAD: Is there any particular artist who does work radically different from yours that you have an interest in or special respect for?

PHT: I’m never any good at answering questions about other artists. Well, yeah, since I’m teaching photo 1, Robert Frank is an amazing street photographer. I love the way that he makes photographs and sees things. It’s not how I operate at all, but I really love that work.

CHAD: I think about projects like your left-hander solidarity meeting where ultimately very little was made physically. Is this a way of working that you are moving toward?

That’s been one of the difficult things. Doing work like that and then not having anything to show for it. Something I didn’t really think about coming to art school was this expectation to always have something to show. Sometimes showing the stuff that is evidence of what happened isn’t nearly as interesting to me. One of the things I’m doing at the West Bank shop is called “Teach Me Your Language?. Mostly that’s just me trying to learn some languages. Photographs of that are easy, but not really the point. I don’t feel I have to show something. I haven’t really worked out for myself how that stuff should be shown or talked about. If I wasn’t in school I wouldn’t even worry about that. School screwed everything up (laughs).

CHAD: Finally, who is your favorite artist in the sculpture department who is currently working with photographs of landscapes?

PHT & CHAD: (much laughing)

CHAD: Just kidding, that's not my final question. If you had to be any animal native to Minnesota, what would it be.

PHT: I love loons, but I also think about TJ’s whole thing about spirit animals and people lately have told me they think my spirit animal is a fox. I've been thinking about foxes lately.

interview with Laura Primozic

My interview with Laura was casual and fun. I wanted to mix questions about her past and how she came to art, with some questions relating to the content of her work which has to do with the environment and global warming.
I began by inquiring about her favorite subject in her early years of school. It was art, and she particularly was interested in drawing. This led to a great exchange between us about our best subjects for drawing as children. She talked about a project which I also remember having a lot of impact on me as a kid, which was to copy a master work. She recalled how much ease there was for her to problem solve and recreate the image.
Next we moved to the computer and I showed a youtube video I had seen recently about a Canadian electric car that was illegal to drive in Canada, so it was being sold in certain States down here. The vehicle is called the Zenn car and is so named because it produces zero emissions and no noise. Laura hadn't seen this particular kind of electric car and said she thought it was very cool.
My favorite environmentalist is David Suzuki, so I showed Laura a couple of interviews with him on youtube as well and asked her if she had a favorite environmentalist. She recalled also having the opportunity to see David speak at a previous ceramics conference. She said it was the first time anyone asked her to consider her objective waste as an artist, and it hit home.
Next I wanted to know which film she thought was better Inconvenient Truth, or 11th Hour, and also how effective these documentaries are at spreading the message of environmental degradation. She admitted that she hadn't see all of 11th hour, but that just like in her own artwork, the ability of what is produced to communicate is determined by the audience that consumes it. Which in the case of art and documentary film making is somewhat limited to an intellectual audience that is pretty informed already.
I ended my interview with Laura, by asking her where she would like to travel to next, and she said that she was looking forward to returning to Alaska and spending time there as less of a tourist, and really seeing the landscape from a different perspective.

November 4, 2008

Laura found out from Chad that

I interviewed Chad in the lobby of the Regis Center and asked him a series of questions about his background, source material, and the direction of his current work.

Growing up on a farm in Nebraska has not only influenced Chad Rutter in his work but also his choices to pursue an art career. Land use/land issues, have had an influence in his work with aesthetics to space and space relationship. However, coming from a family owned farm that is essentially a small business seemed to set him up for the culture shock that came when dealing with the business side of being a graphic designer. Trying to adapt to a client/service provider broke him. I suggested this broke his spirit. Although he left the graphic design field, design tendencies still appear in his work. He has always been attracted to the spare and bold aesthetics which sometimes culminates in something being under made or with the bare essentials in his installation work, which I think is interesting because he has a large resource of reference material but filters the excess.

Chad hopes that most Americans can relate to his landscapes images. He is not sure how people from other countries might relate to his work but he hopes that his works shows a universal wonder of ridiculous excess. He also doesn't see his landscapes as being made up, although in most of them he is combining images from different sources that do not actually occur in reality, he feels like they could exist. There is nothing in this culture that could keep them from coexisting. Chad also wants his viewers to have some sort confusion with his works. For example when mid-westerners view a landscape similar to the mid-west, they might question why did he take this picture?

In Chad's past work he was dealing with the urban and rural landscapes commenting on mass production and consumer culture, he was looking for a conclusion while also acting as an activist. At this point Chad has shied away from this position and sees his work as an awareness. An awareness of your surroundings, and the systems that build a nation. He feels at this point this project is endless, is locked into it for awhile and could be working towards his thesis with this work. Chad sees his time in graduate school as an awesome time to have access to a support system, where people want you to do well, and where it can ease you into the outside art community.

October 28, 2008

Artist Interviews - 2nd Year MFA students

Interview the artist and post a review of this artist on the bolg prior to November 7th.

Here is a recent review from the NY Times - an example of a review to clarify the assignment, not to pose it as a suggested model,

The following lists interviewers and interviewees:

Jessica Gunderson interviews Juana Berrio

Juana Berrio interviews Jessica Gunderson

T J Barnes interviews Meng Tang

Meng Tang interviews TJ Barnes

Rashad Butler interviews David Donovan

David Donovan interviews Jason Gaspar

Jason Gaspar interviews Lindsay Montgomery

Lindsay Montgomery interviews Laura Primozic

Laura Primozic interviews Chad Rutter

Chad Rutter interviews Peter HT

Peter HT interviews Jasmine Wallace

Jasmine Wallace interviews Josh Winkler

Josh Winkler interviews Rashad Butler