Where did you find the inspiration for this project?
A few ideas played into the conception of this piece. I knew I wanted to use the wall and create work with a strong visual impact. I was thinking about fabric moving on or off the wall, about molding and how it is used to hide or conceal seams and dress up a space, and about ruffles and tutus. Further, the connection to ceramics as a material and its history was an important factor and consideration. The work references roof tiles and makes a connection back to clay as a humble material, one with function and purpose. I questioned the purpose of making ruffled tiles to make a pretty wall and the value of doing it, For the Frill of It, so to speak. The journey has been invaluable and full of unexpected lessons.
What are some of the challenges you faced while creating?
I spent several months testing what size and shape to make tiles and how to install them on a wall. The scale of the project grew beyond my original conception leading to storage issues, time constraints, cost, etc. I have a small workspace and quickly max out space, impacting production.
How have the quantity of tiles and repetition that goes into creating each individual tile contributed to your experience and the meaning of this piece as a whole?
I enjoyed the repetition. The repetitive action is a practice or discipline. It helped set goals for how I used my time in the studio and kept me focused and goal-oriented. The quantity of tiles made me question the practicality of this project and ask questions about how I spend my time, effort and money. I struggled with acceptance of my idea and the value of doing it but at a certain point I fully committed. In the end, it was completely worthwhile and a valuable pursuit.
How have people responded to this project so far?
Overwhelmingly supportive. Curious. Interested.
What message would you like the viewer to take away from this installation?
I wanted to create a warm, soft, feminine space. I hope the viewer stands in awe of it for a moment.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Trust yourself. Commit to your ideas. Ask for help. Plan ahead. Ask questions.
Questions by Gallery Assistant Katie Smith
For the Frill of It
As a ceramic artist, I am committed to exploring clay as an expressive material. Its tactile quality, rich history, and utilitarian, sculptural, and decorative applications continually inspire me. For the Frill of It references clay roof tiles, a practical springboard to make something impractical — ruffled tiles.
This project began as a daydream over a year ago. I imagined myself very small and standing under a giant ballerina’s tutu. Surrounded and enveloped by her tutu, I was swept by the beauty of her skirt. It wasn’t until I revisited this daydream that I began to recognize the strength, power, and grace of the ballerina.
In the studio, ideas of luxury and excess and how they translate through fashion and dress initially inspired my research. Through a reductive process in which I removed more and more information, a ruffled tile remained. As I began constructing the ruffles and testing fit and installation methods, the similarity to clay roof tiles was evident. The connection to a roof, its purpose to provide protection, added layers to the ruffles, not only in physical assembly but in meaning. This association deepened my exploration of what is viewed as feminine and masculine and how they support and/or oppose one another.
The production of the tiles was systematic. The repetitive tasks and months of studio time allowed for an internal dialogue about investment of time and effort, practicality, and triviality. As the work increased in size and scope, it began to take on a life of its own and I no longer questioned my commitment to it or its value.
For the Frill of It has been a transformative journey. Through the enormity of the project and commitment required, I continually examined and reflected on my evolving relationship to the work. My hope with this work is to impart warmth, softness, and strength.
This project was made possible by the support of friends and family for which I am truly grateful. I wish to thank Jenny Wheatley for her trust, support, and encouragement and Peter Hannah for his expertise, guidance, and assistance. In addition, I would like to thank Katie Smith, Linda Dobosenki, Anne Wendland, Seth Eberle, Brian Antonich, Sarah Ostrum Reis, Stacie Schlomer Totzke, Kimberlee Joy Roth, Trygve Nordberg, Alyssa Baguss, and others who graciously donated their time and effort to make this project happen.
For the Frill of It
November 11 – December 20, 2016
Reception: November 11, 6 – 8 p.m. – Gage Family Art Gallery
Cohen’s ceramic installation references clay roof tiles, using something practical as a springboard to make something impractical — ruffled tiles. In For the Frill of It, Cohen questions the definition of value, what is useful and important, and ideas of luxury and excess.
When did you begin working with watercolor?
I began working with watercolor as a primary medium 15 years ago. I was pregnant with my first child, and I wanted to keep working consistently without the use of toxic materials and fumes. Before this I had painted with oil paints on canvas.
How do geometric shapes relate to your personal memories? What shape and color does a positive memory tend to form in your mind? What shape and color do you use to depict negative memories?
In this body of work, I am using the geometric shape less for its meaning and more as a tool. To me it works as a unit of imagery, like a line or a brushstroke. It is a unit of visual language and also a unit of time, a building block building a larger image from tiny shapes. The color, however, is more specific and meaningful. I love color. I find that color is strongly connected to moments and impressions. For example, blues are the sea of my childhood in Israel and greens are the lush vegetation of Costa Rica, where I lived as a teen.
Are you willing to share with us a specific memory that is included in this exhibition?
The 12-panel piece that is purple with green and yellow depicts the following memory: The small black vertical lines that seem to be tangled and flowing downwards represent my great aunt’s braids. She was my grandmother’s twin sister. Her name was Judith, and she died of typhus at age 23 in a concentration camp in Jurin, Ukraine, in 1945. Throughout her life, my grandmother kept those braids wrapped in silk in a drawer by her bed and was eventually buried with them. To me this image represents loss, of course, but also continuity, hope, and memory as an active living companion.
What is the most difficult part of the process for you?
The beginning and the end of each piece are the most difficult, in the sense that I am doubting myself. In the very beginning: how to begin, what colors to use, and what overall shape? In the end: when to end, how much is enough, and what will tip the image over the edge and ruin the thing?
What is your favorite part of the process?
Every part of the process is both challenging and fun.
Who are some of your major artistic influences?
I am inspired by a range of artists and art practices: from Rothko and Frankenthaler (for the monumentality of their work and their belief in the emotional universality of color); to Guston and Amy Sillman (painters working at the cross of abstraction and figuration); to traditional world crafts like textiles and tiles (for their use of specific geometry and intense saturated color.)
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
a) Have a source of income that is not your studio work. b) Show up to your studio practice as often as you can.
What is next for you?
Artistically, I am moving on from the geometric imagery into more representational/specific imagery and looking into the possibility of moving away from the wall. What would that look like? Professionally, I am exploring more exhibition venues and teaching opportunities
Questions by Gallery Assistant Katie Smith
Unquiet Territories by Keren Kroul
Christina Schmid thinks with art and writes as critical practice. Her essays and reviews have been published both online and in print, in anthologies, journals, artist books, exhibition catalogs, and digital platforms. She works at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art in Minneapolis, where she gets to talk about art and theory for a living. Her teaching focuses on contemporary art, mixed with critical theories, framed by cross-cultural currents and driven, always, by deep curiosity.
November 7 – December 20, 2016
Reception: November 11, 6 – 8 p.m. – Christensen Center Art Gallery
Working with watercolor on paper, Kroul creates dense organic formations from small shapes and patterns. Inspired by memories, neural pathways and natural elements, these map-like rhythmic structures are landscapes of the mind.
THE WONDER PROJECT – Art 226: Artist Workshop with Anne Baumgartner
The Wonder Project is a multi-layered art endeavor. Part social outreach and part visual celebration, the project hopes to create curiosity, conversation and new connections between the Augsburg campus and surrounding neighbors. Students in Art 226: Artist Workshop class are walking Seward and Cedar Riverside sidewalks to meet people and gather images and thoughts around the phrase, “I wonder_____.” The same questions are being explored in campus spaces and groups. Visiting artist Anne Baumgartner arrives on October 12 to direct art workshops and construction for the Fence installation on 21st Ave. This will be a re-purposed outdoor art collage that responds to what we’ve heard and seen.
A Wonder-Celebration event will happen on Thursday, October 20th from noon to 1:30 p.m. All are invited to attend and participate.
Anne Baumgartner Bio
Anne Baumgartner is a mixed media artist living and working in Los Angeles. Born in Seattle, WA, she received a BA in Art Ed from the University of Washington and an MFA from LUCAD/Art Institute of Boston in 2010. She has worked all over the the country as her family moved from Seattle to New Jersey to Minneapolis and to LA. She raised three children with her husband Dan and taught art in the public schools and at Seattle Pacific University as an adjunct professor. Throughout her teaching career, she has maintained an art practice with sales and commissions in design, painting and mixed media. Anne now lives in LA (since 2010), combining a rigorous studio practice with contract and volunteer art teaching. In the last six years, she has exhibited in independant galleries, Concordia University, Barnsdall Park/ LA Municipal Gallery, Fuller Seminary, Biola University and a rogue fence installation.
Baumgartner’s art practice investigates the dynamics of social politics at work in the urban landscape. Her work uses common shapes/ symbols and repurposed elements to activate unnoticed, spaces and grids. Layering cardboard and found supplies to make quirky and accessible collages, she creates visual interventions, even installing artwork outdoors on neighborhood fences or walls. The familiar materials invite viewers in and raise questions.