Jess Kiel-Wornson by Altered Esthetics

Birds of the Future  (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Birds of the Future (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I’m a multidisciplinary artist---for me art is about establishing connectivity, finding the slipperiness of being in the world, seeing ourselves in one another for better and worse. Using multiple modes of communication points to that—those spaces in between, the bridges from one idea to the next. Combining disciplines---sculpture, text, collage, drawing, performance, diminishes hierarchies and deals, in both form and content, with a multiplicity of perspective. I make work about the quieter ways that we learn, reinforce, and challenge our positions of power. Mostly I deal with learning these things through stories and physical surroundings. I deal with constructed space a lot, largely domestic, particularly with uncurated spaces: storage areas, hallways, staircases, basements, attics. Those places we collect incidentals, pass through regularly, but are never meant to spend time in. There’s an honesty in the way those spaces operate that I’m drawn to. 

My work is rooted in a lot of performance theory and feminist theory---how and why we perform our complicated lives, how fall into the roles we play, how we get out of them or complicate them. 

I’m moving more into performance work and am really excited about collaborations right now. The performance art that I’ve gotten to experience and be involved in making in the Twin Cities is really phenomenal, and I’ve found incredible community there making really conceptually rigorous work. I believe in performance as a way of forcing multiplicity: it rejects the (white-supremacist, patriarchal) capitalist ideal of a singular heroic mark. My installations for instance use embodied experience of the viewer, familiar surroundings or visual cues, and combined cultural artifact (text, movies, stories) to equalize body, object, space, and language thereby formally decentralizing values, dismantling hierarchies, and joining that which is disparate. In this way, the structure of art can be revolution. Collaborations are the next logical step, people coming together to make something greater than ourselves. Gestalt. 

Birds of the Future  (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Birds of the Future (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I don’t know exactly how to answer that. I was never committed to it, but it was maybe always the thing. Maybe I started doing it because it allowed me to continue to play make-believe long after I aged out of it. It allowed me to access and indulge in loves that I didn’t understand. After that it gave me a way to break down the world. All our disciplines, whether our professions are not are lenses for us to better understand the world---some folks see the world in physics or linguistics or engineering or home-making, community building---art making is sort of a way to commit to learning and a little about whatever I want. I get to process all the time. 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

I used to work for a really phenomenal artist, Pablo Helguera, and he consistently keyed into the quietest , most beautiful, honest things about humans—I could never understand how someone so busy could be so insightful, and I think I learned from him that it’s just practice---it’s momentum. He was always taking the world in and remaking it. I learned it’s about filling my life up and rearranging it from him maybe. Audre Lorde wrote to try a thing, and if it works keep doing it and if it doesn’t, try something else. Sarah Ahmed wrote that I don’t have to be happy above all else—and that gave me freedom. My sister told me to go to therapy. My partner reminds me to read stories and be brave. My folks remind me to prioritize love. I get a lot of good advice, I read a lot and watch a lot and I have a lot of really smart humans around and we talk to each other a lot. 

Birds of the Future  (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Birds of the Future (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Is there any medium you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet? 

Probably. I’ll learn it when I need it. Again, I keep a big crew of really smart people around who know a lot of things. I learn knew mediums and methods when the need arrises by asking tons of questions. People can be very generous. 

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I have not yet figured out how to do that really. I moved here because of the good arts funding and good health care. Through these recent collaborations, I’ve gotten paid to make art for the first time really and it still blows my mind. I would like to make money. I would be really good at being rich, but would settle for stable. I don’t believe in the way our economy works. Maybe that’s irrelevant. I want to make money making art, but folks don’t want to buy multimedia interactive installations, and I don’t want to make paintings right now. I’m working on it. 

Birds of the Future  (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Birds of the Future (in collaboration with Charles Campbell and the artists), Multimedia immersive performance installation, 2019. Photo by Tim Heitman.

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

Charles Campbell 

Pramila Vasudevan

Val Olivero’s dance and choreography stops my heart.

Rosy Simas just did an incredible show at SooVac

I consistently love Anat Shinar’s dance and performance.

Hijack and Kristin Van Loon. 

Pedro Lander, Butch Charming, Sweet Pea Burlesque are amazing.

Samantha Johns and Zoe Cinel are both always making smart, biting, beautiful art. 

Jovan Speller’s work was some of the first I encountered when I moved here and she remains one of my favorite artists in town. 

Sarah Evenson’s prints are incredible. 

There’s so many.

Befriending Other Men, Falling in with a Goat, Finding Secrets to Keep  (As part of Sally Rousse’s Icon Sam: Temple Dances), Goat head puppet, shot gun, barbell, picture of John Wayne, church chairs, glasses of milk, virgin mary statue, chain saw, glitter, baby powder, in storage closet of Masonic Temple, 2018

Befriending Other Men, Falling in with a Goat, Finding Secrets to Keep (As part of Sally Rousse’s Icon Sam: Temple Dances), Goat head puppet, shot gun, barbell, picture of John Wayne, church chairs, glasses of milk, virgin mary statue, chain saw, glitter, baby powder, in storage closet of Masonic Temple, 2018

If I were to follow you around to see art in the Twin Cities, which places would we go? What would we see?

We would go see anything the Red Eye is producing. We would go to Hair and Nails and to MIA, Anything happening at Fresh Oysters, Open Eye Figure Theater maybe. We would start and end with a cocktail on a patio. 


What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I don’t have anything lined up immediately but am looking. I just finished two incredible projects: I collaborated with Charles Campbell, Heidi Eckwall, Meagan Mayer, Erika Hanson, Felipe Mastafoli, and Mike Hallenback to make Birds of the Future—it’s the best thing I’ve ever made---a post-apocolyptic, sci-fi anti-nostalgia whirlwind. It was so fucking stunning I’ll never stop thinking about it. And I had the joy and bizarre challenge of building a huge steel cross for Pedro Lander’s recent work Holy Doña. It was an incredible performance—funny and sexy and heartbreaking. I just completed both of those and now am focusing on my domestic life---sun and fixing up my house and getting ready to teach in the fall, love and leisure this summer. But hopefully more collaborations soon. 

From  Survival Spells , Xerox collage, 2019

From Survival Spells, Xerox collage, 2019

Jess Kiel-Wornson is a Minneapolis based multimedia artist. Using immersive sculptural installation (often depicting familiar environments: a suburban bedroom, an old porch, a beauty shop, etc), collaged cultural artifact, and embodied action of viewers, she addresses the insidiousness of the systems of power in our surroundings. Her work speaks to the material consequence of trauma in our bodies and buildings and asks us to reframe our conversations about goodness, success, and identity away from individuals and toward the systems that allow and promote violence toward some bodies distinctly from others. She received her MFA from University of Illinois Champaign Urbana. She is an activist, educator, and shop tech and sometimes wonders how her life would be different if she had found feminist theory before anti-depressants. She is tired of being told by the dominant paradigm that her heartbreak will make her stronger.

Find out more about the Jess and her work on her website at: http://jkwornson.com/.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview conducted by Donny Gettinger.


Altered Esthetics News:

Thank you to all who supported and attended the 2019 Altered Esthetics Film Festival. We couldn’t have done it without you!

We are proud to share that we had a great turnout for our two nights of screenings and, thanks to your help, we are able to pay all of the participating artists!

Shout-out to our amazing hosts at the Trylon Cinema. Thank you for providing a friendly and accessible environment to showcase and view experimental films.

We would also like to thank all the selected filmmakers for sharing your work with us. Congratulations to the 2019 Audience Award winners, Matt Semke for Nuages and Xiaolu Wang for Dumpling.

Special thanks to our 2019 Featured Artist, Maret Davies Polzine, for emceeing the event and inviting us to participate in their animation process.

Thank you again for supporting experimental film and the Ae Film Festival!

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Lyn Corelle by Altered Esthetics

Lyn Corelle lives in Minneapolis. They make art across a number of mediums.

Still from  Altar//Unindividual , 2018

Still from Altar//Unindividual, 2018

Tell me about your work. What are you currently working on?

Haha, I was afraid you’d ask that. I make short films, longer films, collages, and occasionally I write things too.

Let’s see, I don’t mean to do some obnoxious fake coy thing, as I really am grateful that you asked me to talk about what I do and I’m very excited about what I've been making lately. I just don’t like to say much about my work before people experience it. I hope to weave in exactly as much context as I think is necessary, and then afterwards I love talking with people and hearing about their experiences with the work and telling them about mine.

Yesterday though someone asked me a question which I had an interesting time trying to answer so maybe I’ll riff on that. Their question was if I could identify a thread that ran through all my work. I had to laugh at myself cause all I could think of to say was that I really like images, specifically photographic images, moving or still. I like looking at them and thinking about how they relate to other images they might be paired with, or other images I’ve seen throughout my life. I like thinking about how they relate to the actual experience of seeing the objects they depict.

So as I said I laughed at myself because as a filmmaker that’s a ridiculous thing to say, but I really don’t get the sense that there is that fascination at the root of most of the images we see on a daily basis. Regardless of whether or not the images are visually striking, the image itself is secondary, the focus is the narrative or the argument or the product. Which is fine if that’s what you like, but I’m a big reader so if I want a story or some theory to chew on or to dig into some unfamiliar history a book is where I turn. Images are unique and interesting and so I try to explore what makes them unique and interesting.

Collage from  Satan’s Gilded Mire , 2018

Collage from Satan’s Gilded Mire, 2018

The other main thread that I guess runs through what I do is a somewhat analogous fascination with language, with how we use language to make meaning and relate to each other and with how and when language falls apart, proves inadequate for what we hope to do with it. Worming myself into those cracks, as well as into the cracks between what is seen and what is said, is really exciting for me.

Having said all that, though, I definitely don’t take a completely abstract art for art’s sake approach. I just try to let the images and language come first, and then have the meanings or messages follow. After all, the images and words that I use come from my life, and so everything I deal with eventually ends up as grist for the mill, from the terror of environmental collapse to the joys and pains of living outside the restrictive bounds of gender as it’s conventionally imagined to the challenges of how best to support friends when they’re deep in their shit. Hopefully letting those concerns filter through more obliquely prompts people to engage in a deeper way with their own thoughts and feelings about all of that hard or wonderful stuff, rather than just making them listen to what I think.

Still from  Attainable//Unindividua l, 2018

Still from Attainable//Unindividual, 2018

So that’s me telling you about my work. As for what I’m working on, too much. I’m currently in the midst of a series of short experimental videos with what I worry are overly-obtuse names like Altar//Unindividual and Attainable//Unindividual that explore some of the terrain outlined above. I also recently made a half-hour long abstract movie with the South Carolina-based musician Persona La Ave, in which I set footage to his recent ambient album Themes From a Window. He’s a really amazing artist and I am super excited to be working on a follow-up in which we will explore some similar emotions, but with slightly more of a narrative shell wrapped around it.

I am also chipping away at a full-length film that weaves together footage and journal scraps I’ve collected over the past many years in a way that I hope will appear more straight-forward or non-fiction at first glance, but then still turn out interesting and weird, just at a different pace and in a different manner than the shorts.

Then I have a few little zine projects involving photography and collage and writing for which I’m hoping to set aside time to crank out soon.

Oh and I’m always taking and sharing photos to Instagram as a way to keep my photographic eye honed, and cause it's fun and I know there are a few people specifically who look forward to seeing them.

Untitled Instagram Photo, 2019

Untitled Instagram Photo, 2019

I’m most familiar with your recently published book, Bodybuilding Basics: A Field Guide for Young Naturalists. Could you talk more about the process behind creating the book? Is it a one-off thing or do you see yourself creating more similar projects?

Bodybuilding Basics came about when Haley Ryan had the idea to collage together images from a color collection of nature landscapes and a black-and-white bodybuilding manual. We made a few such collages together and then she graciously let me run with the idea, not with any intention but just because it was fun. Eventually though I had over 30 that I really loved, and I started thinking about collecting them together to share with friends. So I did what any person would do in that situation and wrote a series of poems and prose pieces pondering the weird world of these images and the bodybuilders who inhabited it.

As far as creating other similar projects, I’m not sure. Probably no more bodybuilder content for a while. I’m always making collages so definitely more collections of those at some point. One thing I would really like to do one day is write an actual kid’s book. Originally the frame around the bodybuilder images was going to be more of a children’s story, but as I was writing a drier absurdist tone took over and it seems dry humor is hit-or-miss with kids.

Making a real kid’s book, though, and actually publishing it with a real publisher who could get it out into the hands of children would be a dream. Kid’s books are powerful magic. Kids take books really seriously, they read them again and again and really interrogate what is going on within them in a way that adults don’t always do. But so many kid’s books are really bad, just bland or toxic or lacking sympathy for the ways in which kid’s lives are so constrained and difficult. So yeah, I think I could do it and do it better but that’s probably far down the line.

Spread from  Bodybuilding Basics: A Field Guide for Young Naturalists , 2018

Spread from Bodybuilding Basics: A Field Guide for Young Naturalists, 2018

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists and makers you enjoy?

Lately so many amazing people have been inspiring me to really do the thing, to take myself less seriously while taking the work more seriously in its potential to open meaningful space for reflection, joy, healing, grief, levity, confusion, or whatever. In no particular order, some of them are:

Molly Parker Stuart (Ae’s Festival Director), who codes her own abstract digital animations from scratch. I’m really not much of an animation fan so I mean it when I say her stuff is next level mind-blowing.

Haley Ryan, who makes amazing work in a ton of mediums. Her videos make my brain tingle, like I can feel new connections sprouting between different parts of my mind in real-time as I watch, so fingers crossed for more video from her in the future. She’s also mining really cool territory with her music/performance/exercise/self-help project, Sport Haley, so keep your eyes peeled for future performances.

Devohn Bland, a spectacular comedian who also works in film, poetry, music and painting. He runs the Vector 9 Variety Show and the Uproar Open Mic alongside the multi-talented Xochi de la Luna. The space they cultivate has been so energizing for me and I know for many others as well. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how tending ground from which weird communities can blossom is as much an art and a skill as putting words together or making interesting images, but one which is largely devalued and written out of histories and conversations surrounding art. This is how we end up with rooms full of dudes wanting to be the star and spending more time tearing each other down than actually doing the thing itself. It’s invigorating to see people changing that.

On that note, I have to shout out to Maret Polzine (Ae’s Assistant Festival Director), who makes really cool experimental animations as well as running Video Variant, which hosts screenings and discussions of local queer experimental videos and runs workshops for youth and adults. Showing work at Video Variant has really made me feel very strongly that making the art I want to make is worth the time, that there will be people excited to watch it and talk about it with me. In the past I’ve often fallen in a hole of feeling like only I want to see these weird slow videos where not much happens, so I either let them waste away on my hard drive or stop making them all together. So here’s to Video Variant and everyone who comes out and makes it the special community it is.

This has gotten long and I could make it much longer, but I’ll just end by saying that these are some other people doing stuff so amazing that I can’t do this interview without seizing the opportunity to point you their way: Free Music, Comrade Tripp, Material, Lynn Avery/Iceblink, Izell Pyramid, and Gisell Calderón.

Drawing of the artist by Haley Ryan

Drawing of the artist by Haley Ryan

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

Yes! On May 31st I’ll be showing an excerpt from Themes From a Window at the aforementioned Vector 9 Variety Show, hosted by Devohn Bland and Xochi de la Luna and also featuring videos by Maret Polzine and Gisell Calderón and a performance by Comrade Tripp, amazing artists you’ve definitely heard of somewhere before. On June 29th I’ll be showing a new short, Restive//Unindividual, and maybe some other stuff as part of a Video Variant showcase happening in conjunction with a screening of Screaming Queens, a film by groundbreaking trans historian Susan Stryker about the Compton’s Cafeteria riots. Needless to say, I am beyond humbled and excited to be taking part in that. Lastly, from July to September I will be doing a show of the collages from Bodybuilding Basics alongside some work by Haley Ryan at beloved Southside institution, May Day Cafe, so that’s gonna be a blast too. Until then interested readers can pick up a copy at Boneshaker Books on Franklin Ave.

You can follow Lyn on Facebook and Instagram at @lyncorelle

Check out Lyn’s work at these events:

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview conducted by Sophie Buchmueller.

Altered Esthetics News:

Are you a film/ video artist looking to show your work? Ae seeks to exhibit short-form experimental film and video art at a length 12 minutes or shorter for our Annual Film Festival. Submit your work on our Film Freeway page. The submissions deadline is 5/31 with a late deadline of 7/15.

Support our community of filmmakers by donating to and sharing our Kickstarter Campaign. We need your help to raise funds for festival operations and artist compensation by June 30. Thank you for your support!

Hannah Moles by Altered Esthetics

Hannah Moles was raised in a bite-sized town of Nicholasville, Kentucky where she grew tall with artistic influences close to her. She spent many of her hours in an art studio buried in Wilmore, Kentucky. She was then smacked upside the head with the fine arts community as she was admitted to the University of Kentucky in 2013.

After acceptance into the BFA program Hannah created work, attained knowledge, and achieved her degree in December of 2017. She produces work through fibers, paint, and installation sculpture. She is presently producing work on commission, and constructing a new body of sculpture work. Through her work Hannah explores tenderness and how identity is refined and strengthened through our human connections.

Jordinne , yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 1’ x 3.5’ x 4’, 2018

Jordinne, yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 1’ x 3.5’ x 4’, 2018

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Currently I’m exploring a new space, a new practice, but old and archived sentiments. I’m striving to interpret my hollow yearn for past connections as I compose new work. I get caught in pangs of longing for past lovers and outgrown friendships. I’m chewing on tough meat; leather even. The sculptures I’m making represent what’s expired, left over, and preserved of these people, places, and eras from my life. They emulate shells that are now abandoned, with varying levels of life still pulsing through. The practice of making these figures is a meditation to sort out why I still hold space for them.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I think the very best stuff has wriggled towards me, by acting large and loud in a way that my gut knows true. There’s certainly a learning curve there, but courage is a quality I couldn’t trade for anything. I’ve learned to dance with logic and reason, but I keep my deep yearns at the front of the line. So I dive into my creative pursuit as a remedy to a belly ache. Because my gut finds art and creation as a solace.

There was an instance in undergrad that I faced a sharp corner- would I continue following a route of education, would I be a teacher? But in the pit of my stomach I recognized that wasn’t where I was supposed to be then. So I turned on my head and began pursuing visual art with abandon!

Alexander,  yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 3.5’ x 3’ x 6’, 2018

Alexander, yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 3.5’ x 3’ x 6’, 2018

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

I believe its all more intricate and multi-dimensional than a short and sweet fragment of advice. For it to actually hold influence, I’ve found that its a repetitious exercise that I have to restate every time I walk into the studio.

I think what I hold onto the tightest today, is to act in bravery and endurance. My practice juggles quite vulnerable things, and the act of making itself is a vulnerable thing. It is pertinent to remind myself of my worth and purpose in the artist’s forum. So I follow the advice to make, and then make some more. We are so capable of proficient and poor work. We will all make poor work. But its until I proceed to make it- flush it out and turn it physical- that I can get over it and move forward in the studio and my head.

Is there any medium you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

I’d like to throw myself back in the woodshop! I worked within a realm of loud noises and power tools in undergrad, but when my artistic direction wasn’t yet defined. My work has adapted qualities that are very tender, sometimes fragile, and generally soft. I’d be so interested to see my practice unroll in the unbending environment of woodworking. I do hope that it would remain very tender and sometimes soft.

Charlie,  yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 1.5’ x 3’ x 3’, 2019

Charlie, yarn, wool, polyester fiber, and glue, 1.5’ x 3’ x 3’, 2019

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work? How do you market yourself?

I’ve found my most promising route to sell and freelance, is to simply show up. Of course a reputable website, business cards, and the works will prompt a follow-through. But to root into a community- attend gallery openings, engage in conversation, volunteering yourself and your time- has proven the most genuine networking method for me.

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

Alonzo Pantoja; https://alonzopantoja.com
Hannah Brown; http://hbrownillustration.tumblr.com
Lauren Roche; https://laurenroche.bigcartel.com

If I were to follow you around to see art in the Twin Cities, which places would we go? What would we see?

In what season do you plan to follow me? I’m a sunbird, and I really gravitate to the heat and rays. So I think my place here in MN is a very funny thing!

But- given a radiant day- I would probably take you on a bike ride!  And we would listen to all the right music and blind ourselves by the sun, and it might make us cry. We would pit stop for coffee at Five Watt Coffee Co, and continue to breeze around Lake Bde Maka Ska. We might nap and roast in the sun. Hopefully you remembered your book, because we love reading. Then we would uproot, snag a six pack of Hamm’s at Hum’s Liquor, and go cook dinner at my house!

For inquiries related to Hannah’s work, email hmoles@ymail.com and follow Hannah on Instagram at @honeyslider_ .

Image of the artist

Image of the artist

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Sarah Kuenzler, edited by Sarah Kass.

Altered Esthetics News:

Ae seeks to exhibit short-form experimental film and video art at a length 12 minutes or shorter for our sixth annual Film Festival. The deadline for submissions is May 31. Learn more and submit your entry on our Film Freeway page. Feel free to email if you have any questions about the submission process by sending a message to aefilmfest@gmail.com.

We are also seeking donations to support this event. 100% of your tax-deductible gift to Ae goes directly to the festival’s operating costs and paying participating artists.