Emily Swanberg by Altered Esthetics

Emily Swanberg is a Minneapolis, MN based sculptor whose work is influenced by the environments, materials, and processes inherent in architecture and systematic design. In 2016, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Bethel University. Her work has been included in various exhibitions, including the 2018 Masters Show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. Swanberg is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota.

Block 0: 1-2,  cinder block, cast aluminum cinder block made from single-use sand mold, cast iron cinder block made from same sand mold, 8” x 8” x 32”, 2017

Block 0: 1-2, cinder block, cast aluminum cinder block made from single-use sand mold, cast iron cinder block made from same sand mold, 8” x 8” x 32”, 2017

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

My work examines the ways sites are marked, unmarked, and distinguished from surrounding areas. With emphasis on both the planned meticulousness and the precarious jury-rigging of the construction process, the sculptures observe and absorb the tendencies of built architectural and utilitarian structures. The materials of these structures exist as relics of a place, witnessing the complete action timeline of the site. I am interested in the shift that occurs when those materials are translated and re-materialized in a new context under new pretenses. In this translation, I aim to investigate what it means to mark a site with a structure and how the physicality of structure functions beyond what it marks. Employing altered building processes and re-fabricated materials, my work fetishizes and dissects the intimacy of building labor and the ways it links to systems of power and authority. The objects forcedly slow down and frustrate the building process, questioning how constructive labor functions within larger society.

My previous work was also very materials focused, considering ideas of national power and identity. But my current practice feels much more intimate. I tend to and care for my materials in a way that feels almost sentimental in nature. Ideas and relationships are much subtler, softer. My hand and my labor have become infinitely more important than they have been in the past.

[ STRUCTURE X]  (study), sawdust studs and fiberglass insulation bricks, 8’ x 8’ x 3.5”, 2019

[STRUCTURE X] (study), sawdust studs and fiberglass insulation bricks, 8’ x 8’ x 3.5”, 2019

A process which I’ve noticed in your recent work is the use of casting. Can you talk a bit about cast objects and repetition and how those elements inform your new work? 

I think I initially fell into casting because of how demanding and process heavy it is. My work has become focused on labor lately-- considering systems of building labor as well as my own labor. It therefore feels important that the objects I create demonstrate the labor that I put into them. I like the way that casting requires so much behind-the-scenes work and that it can capture that effort in a really tactile way, even when the final object presents as fairly pristine. For my current project, casting has held even more weight because it has allowed me to dissect and reform even the most basic building units. Namely, I've been packing sawdust into 8-foot long molds to mold back into lumber again. After literally breaking down the wood into its messiest form, using a mold allows me to put it back together with my own hands. The resulting lumber holds the same material as the original but has structurally become something completely different. For this project that is so rooted in dissecting systems of assembly, it made sense for me to disassemble and reassemble in this way as much as I could.

Material choice also seems to play a large role within your practice. How does the filtering of material effect your palette [color, texture, etc]?

I tend to use pretty traditional building materials-- lumber, concrete, drywall, insulation, etc. Everything is naturally pretty pale, sometimes warmer in tone, if not completely neutral. My palette tends to be a bit calmer, softer when I leave those raw materials exposed. I appreciate when these traditionally very strong and structural materials feel more intimate and accessible in that way. I also like things to feel touched or touchable. Making objects feel visually tactile opens up the material for a person as well.  

Sawhorse , silica sand studs, sandblasted sawhorse brackets, 28” x 16” x 32”, 2018

Sawhorse, silica sand studs, sandblasted sawhorse brackets, 28” x 16” x 32”, 2018

How did you decide to become an artist?

I don’t remember ever deciding to become an artist. My father has been gifting me tool sets ever since I was 5 years old. As my collection grew, I eventually got to a point where using those tools felt like the only thing to do. Over time, working has become increasingly central to my everyday life. So I guess I’m an artist now.

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

My undergrad mentor, Ken Steinbach, once told me to learn the proper way to use a new material and then to completely ignore it. I’ve learned that knowing the way materials are prescriptively used offers a great deal of insight into how that material holds and persists. But for me, pushing it beyond those prescriptions to a place that feels more true to a concept or structure always leads to a better result. I’m constantly referring back to that advice, trusting that I’m allowed to do whatever I want.

Wall (Dundee) and Broch Bricks , sawdust, paste, concrete, hand-carved lumber, dimensions variable, 2018

Wall (Dundee) and Broch Bricks, sawdust, paste, concrete, hand-carved lumber, dimensions variable, 2018

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

I did a bit of printmaking in undergrad but really only scratched the surface of what’s possible with that medium. I’d like to try using printmaking methods to create 2-dimensional prints from 3- dimensional objects. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there to experiment with and portray objects in another way.

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

There are so many excellent artist in the Twin Cities. Some of my current favorites are Eric William Carroll (http://www.ericwilliamcarroll.com/), Brittany Kieler (http://www.brittanykieler.com/), and Emmett Ramstad (http://www.emmettramstad.com/).

Pallet , silica sand, 40” x 48” x 5.5” 2019

Pallet, silica sand, 40” x 48” x 5.5” 2019

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

Because my studio is in the UMN Regis Center for Art, I frequent the University of Minnesota galleries most often. Working at the Katherine E. Nash gallery offers me an insider look at the larger exhibitions alongside briefer shows and student pop-ups. Off campus, I like visiting smaller Minneapolis venues like Yeah Maybe, Hair + Nails, and Q.arma, which offer a more casual setting for checking out new and experimental work. Mia and the Walker are Minneapolis must-sees, of course, when in a formal art-viewing mood.

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

The vast majority of my time is currently dedicated to preparing for my cohort’s graduate thesis show.

The House | The Yard will be on view at the University of Minnesota’s Katherine E. Nash Gallery in the Regis Center for Art from April 9 -27, 2019. There will be a public program and reception on Saturday, April 13 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm.

More information here: https://cla.umn.edu/art/galleries/katherine-e-nash-gallery

Image of the artist

Image of the artist

For more of Emily’s work, check out http://emilyswanberg.com/.

Follow Emily on Instagram at @emily.swanberg and Twitter at @easwanberg.

Be sure to visit the Katherine E. Nash Gallery to see new work by Emily:

April 9-27, 2019

with a public program and reception on Saturday, April 13 from 5:30 - 9:00 pm.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Donny Gettinger and edited by Sarah Kass.

Altered Esthetics News:

Our sixth annual Film Festival is open for submissions! Learn more and submit your entry on our Film Freeway page. 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.

Claytopia 2019: Local ceramic artists prepare as NCECA arrives in the Twin Cities by Altered Esthetics

NCECA (The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) is hosting it’s 53rd annual conference in Minneapolis from March 27 - 30. Check out these tips from local ceramic artists on where to find their work and other great exhibitions during Claytopia 2019.

Katayoun Amjadi

Web: www.katayoun.com Instagram: @katceramics
Online store: www.alangoo.com/katayoun

Katayoun_2.jpeg

Katayoun Amjadi is currently a Teaching Assistant and MFA candidate at the U of M. Previously, she was an Assistant to the Gallery Director at the Circa Gallery and Curatorial Intern for the Department of Contemporary Art in Minneapolis Institute of Art. Her work has been exhibited in several group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, including Minnesota Museum of American Arts, Rochester Art Center, Instinct Art Gallery, Weisman Art Museum, Soap Factory, Beijing Film Academy and 7Samar Gallery in Tehran. Amjadi received her BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Minnesota in 2013. She is also a 2015 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She was born in Tehran, Iran and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and maintains a studio in the Q.arma building in the NE Art District.

Is there anywhere we can see your work on display during NCECA?

My works are up at the Hair&Nails Gallery, Quarter Gallery at the University of Minnesota, and some decorative works are at Gallery 360.

Any additional exhibitions you’d like people to know about?

I also organized a show at the Q.arma Building with mostly ceramics installation artists.

Jason Kittle

Web: www.truckstop.gallery

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Jason_theclimb.JPG

Jason Kittel is an artist who lives and works in Northeast Minneapolis.  His primary focus is on the current social situation and one's experience within. These questions and ideas are addressed through sculpture and performance. Jason Kittel is also a co-founder of Truckstop Gallery located on Niccolet Island near downtown Minneapolis. 

What are you looking forward to seeing during Claytopia this year?

Randy Johnston and Variations of Shino at Gallery 1639

Anything you’d like to promote?

Truckstop is hosting two Canadian artists; Magdolene Dykstra and Janet Macpherson.  This collaborative installation explores an environment pushed too far; hybrid animals scattered within an uncompromising landscape.  The unfired installation is sure to stand out among the gallery shows and this year’s NCECA.  More details and information can be found at www.truckstop.gallery.

Ernest Miller

Web: www.ernestmiller.com   Instagram: @ernestmillerceramcis
Facebook: ernestmillerceramicsdesign

Ernest Miller is a ceramic artist working in Minneapolis, MN. He can be found at local art centers sharing ceramic techniques and experience through teaching classes at Fired Up Studios in Golden Valley, MN and the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in Wayzata, MN. His ceramics career has been mostly built through showing work in various regional and national art fairs including the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC. You can find a selection of his work at The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul, MN and Schaller Gallery in Saint Joseph, MI. Miller credits a formal education as foundation for a successful outlook on ceramics and the arts. He received an associates degree from Olney Central College in Olney, IL and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL.

Where can we find your work during NCECA?

For NCECA my work can be found at "Pot Spot" and the Northern Clay Center pop up gallery at the convention center.

Are there any exhibitions you’d suggest to people visit while in town for the conference?

There's a few exhibits in particular I recommend seeing. An exhibition of Don Reitze, Chris Gusting, Warren Makenzie, and John Reeve at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts is amazing.

Liz Pechacek 

Web: www.lizpechacek.com   Instagram: @lizpechacek

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Liz Pechacek is a Minneapolis based ceramics artist whose work is primarily concerned with the making of beautiful objects.

Where can we find your work during NCECA?

The Northern Clay Center sales gallery- 2424 East Franklin Ave
The Northern Clay Center Expo Hall Booth- Minneapolis Convention Center
The Pot Spot, St. Croix Potters Exhibition-  Silverhouse Studio 2519 27th Ave. S
Nucleus- Gallery 360, 3011 W 50th St
To the Top!- Northfield Arts Guild-  304 Division St. S, Northfield, MN

I am also sitting on a panel about ceramics business at the convention Center Thursday at 3:45 and giving a gallery talk at the Northern Clay Center expo hall booth Wednesday at 3.

What are you looking forward to seeing during Claytopia this year?

I am really looking forward to the show at Veronica Wantz and the Russian Art Museum.

Altered Esthetics News:

Our sixth annual Film Festival is open for submissions! Learn more and submit your entry on our Film Freeway page. 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.

All images courtesy of the artists.

Interviews written by Donny Gettinger, edited by Sarah Kass.

Hawona Sullivan Janzen by Altered Esthetics

Hawona Sullivan Janzen is a somewhat optimistic daisy in the rose garden of life who just happens to believe that art is the only thing that can save us from ourselves.  On most weekdays she can be found at the University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) in North Minneapolis where she is the gallery curator and co-founder of the Witness Creative Writing Group, a free monthly creative writing program. When she is not banging out poems on her cursive font typewriter in front of live audiences, you may find her singing improvisational jazz with the Sonoglyph Music & Poetry Collective, creating shadow puppet shows at Monkeybear Harmolodic, or composing music in her St. Paul studio. She is currently developing a jazz opera and installation piece titled Clean, which debuted at the Soap Factory in June of 2016, into a full-length performance piece.

Clean , Soap Factory, 2016

Clean, Soap Factory, 2016

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

I’m multi-genre: a poet, composer, singer, performer, and socially-engaged installation artist.
Currently I’m at work on three projects:

1. Rondo Family Reunion - a poetry & photography project that brings stories of the Rondo Community to life with performance, lawn sign, and book components.

2. Blue: Our Lives Are On This Line - an encounter poetry project based on people I meet along the Blue Line Expansion route through North Minneapolis.

3. Clean - a jazz opera project that started during a residency at the Soap Factory.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I’m not sure that I ever did. I come from a deep tradition of storytelling, sewing, and farming so I suppose creating was always a part of who I am. In college at the University of Minnesota, I took art classes and discovered a real passion for Performance-based Art which is really just storytelling by a different name. It has taken me 20 years to declare myself an artist.

Clean , Soap Factory, 2016

Clean, Soap Factory, 2016

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

Do something! I knew an artist who was angry about a problem she saw in her community. I encouraged her to use her art to start conversations in her community.  

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

Large scale text installations, I dream elaborate works but haven’t quite figured out where I can find space to bring them to life.

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

I don’t, really.  I fund my writing work through grants. My performance, composing, and singing work is funded by cover charges and/or venue fees.

Poetry of Resistance & Change , 2017

Poetry of Resistance & Change, 2017

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

There are so many...

Free Black Dirt: http://www.freeblackdirt.com/
Venus DeMars: http://venusdemars.com/
Michael Kleber-Diggs: https://michaelkleberdiggs.com/
Zoe Bird and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project: http://www.alzpoetrymn.org/poets
Saymoukda Vongsay: https://www.saymoukdatherefugenius.com/

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

The Minnesota Museum of American Art (The M)
The Loft
Ordway
The Black Dog

I love modern art, spoken word, jazz.  You name it I’ve got a passion for it.

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

Expect to see me doing more public art in 2019-20. Summer 2019, I’ll be doing a lawn sign public art installation of poems and photos with photographer, Chris Scott, and poet, Clarence White.

Image of the artist and Frida

Image of the artist and Frida

Follow Hawona on her Facebook page, Hawona Writes, and on Twitter at @Hawona.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Molly Parker Stuart, edited by Sarah Kass.