Brenna Mosser by Altered Esthetics

Brenna Mosser is a local emerging dance artist. She trained and earned degrees at the Perpich Center for Arts Education, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK, and at le Centre National de la Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France. After completing her education, Brenna spent two years in the Conservation Corps, an Americorps program focused on environmental restoration projects in Southeast Minnesota. As well as creating her own dance works, Brenna currently dances for ARENA Dances, Alternative Motion Project, Threads Dance Project, Bernadette Knaeble and Jennifer Glaws. She teaches Jazz and Modern at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts in Winona, MN. In her free time Brenna enjoys reading, rock climbing, and going to Rochester to restore a prairie on her parents' property.

Belly , 2015. Photo by Alain Papillon.

Belly, 2015. Photo by Alain Papillon.

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

I have two branches of my work: that as a dancer and that as a choreographer. I am a very physical dancer. I am inspired by sports - spontaneity and strength as well as fluidity of motion to complete a task. I like to move fast and I love to find creative ways to fall. I am also very interested in circus arts, so you will often find me working on my handstands to warm up. I get to share my wild energy with numerous choreographers in town from ARENA Dances to independent choreographers such as Bernadette Knaeble and Jennifer Glaws.

As a choreographer, I draw inspiration from the environment and from science fiction. I spent two years in the Conservation Corps, which allowed me to practice a different kind of physicality (chainsawing, moving logs, hiking bluffs etc.) as well as learn about the ecology and geology of Southeast Minnesota. My current work, Regeneration, deals with the manipulation and destruction of our landscape. At the same time, it explores possibilities of how humans can exist harmoniously within their environment.

On the Rocks , 2016. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

On the Rocks, 2016. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

How did you decide to become a dancer?

I have been dancing ever since I was a little baby bouncing to country music on the radio. I tried not dancing for a time and did not enjoy how expressionless and meaningless I felt. It has been permanently a part of my life ever since.

Describe your choreographic process.

My choreographic process usually begins with a vision of an image that I want to produce. From there I build a story to that image, which may or may not be obvious in the final piece. For example, in my current work, Regeneration, the original image was that of a woman buried waist-deep in the ground high on a mountain and reaching as far as she could into a valley. The story I put with this image was of a creature millions of years in the future that had evolved from humans on a different planet. It had been stranded there after an early space exploration mission had crash-landed on this unknown world. The piece as it currently stands does not in any way tell this story, but rather the abstraction of the work allows the viewer to interpret it on their own.

After playing with the image and story line, I like to create a movement vocabulary suitable for the work. I consider the range of movement qualities, use of space, and energy patterns to define a recurring move or spatial design. For Regeneration, I was working with a huge dress made out of burlap. The movement quality became very heavy, because of the weight of the burlap, and aggressive, because of the amount of material that the dancer had to deal with. The dance became about finding those moments of stillness and serenity to have relief from the heavy and aggressive movement quality.

Regeneration , 2018. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

Regeneration, 2018. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

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

Art is not a finished product, it is a process. I find this especially true for dance in the Twin Cities when I see choreographers revisit work they have created and allow the piece to change and develop. This has given me faith and validity in my own work to present it as it stands - to allow it to be imperfect so that I can continue to investigate it in the future.

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

I have always wanted to create a work based on the lighting. It is very difficult to be able to rehearse in a space with lighting capability due to finances or lack of resources, so oftentimes lighting gets added during technical rehearsals the day before or the day of presenting a work. If I ever get the chance it would be a dream come true!

The artist dancing in  Threshold , 2010, by Mathew Janczewski, ARENA Dances.  Performance on 11/10/2018 at the Fitzgerald Theater. Photo by Dan Norman.

The artist dancing in Threshold, 2010, by Mathew Janczewski, ARENA Dances.

Performance on 11/10/2018 at the Fitzgerald Theater. Photo by Dan Norman.

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

I am a huge fan of the people I dance for! Beyond that I love the work done by Black Label Movement ( and Shapiro and Smith Dance Company ( because of their raw physicality.

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

In the near future, you can expect to see me at the Lab theater the first weekend of March, the week after in Kalamazoo, MI with Jennifer Glaws at the Midwest Alternative Dance Festival, and in April with Threads Dance Project. I will also be producing a new work that will be shown at ARENA Dances' CandyBox Festival early May 2019!

Image of artist by Armour Photography, 2018

Image of artist by Armour Photography, 2018

For more of Brenna’s work, check out

Follow Brenna on Facebook at Brenna Mosser Dance Works.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Sophie Buchmueller, edited by Sarah Kass.

Highlighting the Nuances of Human Connection: Peter Bonde Becker Nelson by Altered Esthetics

Peter Bonde Becker Nelson (b. 1981) grew up in Annandale, Minnesota. He earned a BA in Studio Art from St. Olaf College in 2004 and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts at the University of Washington in 2010. Peter taught photography, video, and new media for three years at St. Lawrence University (2010-2013). He is now an Assistant Professor of New Media in the Department of Art & Art History at St. Olaf College. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally.

Examining themes of gender, aging, class, and identity, Nelson records and interprets the personal narratives of his friends, family, and self. As one reviewer recently wrote, “His work delves into the nuances of human connection — love, friendship, intimacy, frustration and loss.”

In addition to art, Peter sings and plays the mandolin with the indie-folk duo Jayber Crow.



Tell me about your work- what are you currently working on?

I recently completed an animated film, titled Intruder Man that explores the story of a woman (my paternal grandmother) at two distinct stages in her life. As a young home economics teacher, she faces the wrath of an authoritarian superintendent who blacklists her from teaching; as an elderly woman, Alzheimer’s disease makes her paranoid of an “intruder man” who haunts her apartment.

My upcoming exhibition at Truckstop Gallery incorporates and expands on this film, specifically on the themes of paranoia and dementia. The animated film will be screened with a live performance by a vocalist and pianist performing the score. Other works in the exhibit include an interactive twelve foot tall pink cake with a slide that gallery attendees can climb up and slide down, a 360° immersive video of an elderly woman in her apartment, a performer playing a cymbal in the gallery, an audio installation with my grandmother’s voice, and a wall text piece with words my grandmother wrote in the early stages of her dementia.

I have worked primarily in audio and video in the past, so this new work is a significant departure from what I have been doing. It’s been exciting to incorporate my growing interests in sculptural, interactive, and relational work into this exhibit.

Intruder Man  (film still), Stop Motion Animation, 9:45 min, 2017

Intruder Man (film still), Stop Motion Animation, 9:45 min, 2017

When did you decide to become an artist?

I think I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I’ve been making art in one form or another for as long as I can remember. That being said, there was a specific moment when I realized I was miserable working a 40-hour per week desk job doing tedious graphic design tasks. At that point, I deliberately decided to pursue my MFA and take art more seriously as an important part of my career.

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

A wise friend, Zack Bent, told me that being an artist is the hardest job you can have because there is no prescriptive way to be an artist, no rules for what you can and can’t do, and no one to hold you accountable to deadlines. Strangely, that thought has given me both comfort and confidence when I’m struggling. It’s good to acknowledge that it’s a difficult road, but also good to remember there’s a lot of freedom and creativity with that amount of autonomy.

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

I am interested in developing a practice in socially engaged art — art that incorporates other people and builds community. I don’t know who I would partner with or what I would like to pursue, so the first step is getting out in my community, building relationships, and putting out feelers for possible collaborators and projects.

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

I am not a great person to ask about selling work. I have only sold a few pieces of my video work and have not pursued that seriously. That being said, I have applied for many grants, art exhibits, and film screenings. I have been fortunate to receive a number of grants and have my work exhibited and screened widely. While that is not the same as selling work, it’s a serious commitment to get work out there and get new projects funded through artist grants. I am also fortunate enough to have a steady teaching position that encourages and supports my art practice.



Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

Rini Keagy:

Andrea Carlson (recently moved to Chicago, but love her work):

Xavier Tavera:

Pao Houa Her:

Ben Moren:

Chris Larson:

And so many more!

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

Since I live about an hour outside of the Twin Cities, I don’t make it to the cities as often as I’d like. My most frequent stops include trips to the Walker and the MIA to see the MAEP Space and the new acquisitions. If we had enough time, I’d want to stop at All My Relations, SooVac, and the Soap Factory too.

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

Yes! I’ll be showing brand new work at Truckstop Gallery on November 17th, 7-10pm. The show is titled “I Feel Loneliest When I Was Sent Here.” Please come!

Image of artist with truck and audio installation

Image of artist with truck and audio installation

For more of Peter’s work, check out

Follow Peter on Instagram @pbbnelson.

Visit Truckstop Gallery to see new work by Peter on:

Saturday, November 17, 2018, 7-10 pm

with Screening and Live Performance starting at 8:30 pm

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Donny Gettinger, edited by Sarah Kass.

Audience Awards 2018 by Altered Esthetics

Each year, attending audience members vote on their favorite films after each Film Festival screening. Two films really stuck out to them; Thursday’s Child by local artist Maret Polzine, and The Dérive by returning artist Tanin Torabi, who won our Creative Vision Award in 2017.

MARET POLZINE - Thursday's Child (Minnesota)
Cody Lamb: composer/performer of music

Maret Polzine,  Thursday's Child

Maret Polzine, Thursday's Child

"Thursday's Child has far to go. My recollections of childhood invariably lead to memories of storm-watching: Of staring out my window with wide eyes and a soft mouth. As I gazed into the storm, I was never more receptive to the vast journey ahead of me, never more aware of my smallness. But it was also in this meditative state that I found I was not afraid of the void, but soothed by it. As a trans queer artist, I remember this limitless space, before boundaries and labels, as feeling enormous and significant. Thursday's Child has far to go, and what a comfort that is."

Maret Polzine is an artist and arts organizer based in the Twin Cities. Their work frequently features unnamable feelings, using traditional/digital animation techniques to describe elusive and often uncomfortable thoughts.

Maret Polzine,  Thursday's Child

Maret Polzine, Thursday's Child

TANIN TORABI - The Dérive (Iran)
Tanin Torabi: Director, performer
Milad Sanaei: Cinematography, Edit
Faran Fahimi: Music

 Tanin Torabi,  The Dérive

 Tanin Torabi, The Dérive

"An exploration of social and cultural issues. A dancer moves among the people in an old bazaar in Tehran capturing the responses and reactions. Dance is prohibited in Iran."

Tanin Torabi طنین ترابی was born in 1992 in Tehran, Iran. She earned her BA in Sociology in Tehran, and her MA in Contemporary Dance Performance from University of Limerick, Ireland. Torabi has made several award winning dance films and performances and currently works as a dancer, choreographer and dance film maker in Iran and Ireland.

Her most recent works are The Dérive, Invisible Point, Ruby, Beyond the Frames and Immensity. She has received more than 15 awards for her films to date and her works have been described as "rebellious, creative, inspiring, unbearably elegant and affecting, emblematic and poignant, empowering to women, and with an exceptional ambition that is layered with a complexity of personal and cultural nuance" by festival directors.

 Tanin Torabi,  The Dérive

 Tanin Torabi, The Dérive

All images courtesy of the artists.

Post written by Chelsea Arden Parker, edited by Sarah Kass.