Friday, October 10, 2014

Local Art Seen: Gabrielle Gerster’s “Control”

One of the features of the UMD arts program is having an opportunity to exhibit your work within the Tweed Museum sometime before you graduate. If you’re unaware of it, the far corner of the Tweed Museum of Art features student shows from the UMD fine arts program. This week’s opening featured work by Gabrielle Gerster. Her show is titled Control.

“As humans we try to control our surroundings and how events will play out. We do this by wearing different masks to hide our feelings and thoughts. We control how we act in different environments. We are not the same person at school as we are at home or at work,” write Gerster on her artist statement.

Gerster's work is an attempt to show the various masks we wear. We never know what other people are hiding behind their carefully controlled masks. She especially noticed this while working in guest services. Like waitresses and others in the serving professions, no matter how rude the customer is the service worker must smile and remain polite.

EN: Where are you from and briefly, how did you take an interest in art?

Gabrielle Gerster: I am originally from Askov, MN. But I'm currently living in Duluth. I've always loved art and have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil.

EN: How did you come up with the concept that you used that is portrayed here?

GG: My concept came from a lot of my own experiences. My parents used to have a restaurant and when I was about 12 I began working there as a server. One thing my dad told me was "no matter how bad your day is or if we are arguing, it ends at that door." This advice has helped me stay calm in pretty much any situation I've come across in customer service. Currently I work in customer service and no matter how rude someone is, you can't actually say what you want unless you want to be fired. This has made me wear a "mask" and always be polite to the costumers. This lead me to look at how people separate their personal life and professional lives and has fascinated me. I also love to people-watch and the longer you observed somebody you realize little things to give away their emotions and that give you a hint to what they are hiding.

EN: What kind of media did you use?

GG: All of the paintings are done in acrylic on canvas with a with a screen stencil overlay.

EN: What kind of feedback have you received?

GG: So far the feedback has been great. A lot of people have been calling it "powerful", " emotional" and my little sister said "even though I don't understand it, the paintings are still beautiful." Which I thought was somewhat funny.

EN: What other insights about masks and life have you gained from the experience of putting this together?

GG: Putting this show together has helped me really look at the different emotions and habits people will try to hide. It has also shown me how transparent a mask really is and that you are probably showing more than you think.

EN: What are your plans for the future?

GG: I am currently studying to be an art teacher. I'll be graduating at the end of this semester. I also plan on continuing to make art as well.

* * * *

Here's a poem about masks that I shared on this blog in 2008. Control will be on display at the Tweed Museum of Art for the rest of this weekend.

Don't forget tonight's Art Crawl in Downtown Duluth. Get your Art on.

Seraphina’s Necessary Illusions
Opening at Washington Gallery on Friday, October 10 from 6-9pm. The show is a collaborative effort by Carla Hamilton, Brent Kustermann, and Emma Rustan, and will feature a series of new paintings from each of the artists focused upon sequential illusory portraiture.

Yoga Health Art Opening
This is a nice addition to our Downtown Duluth Second Friday Art Crawl.
Yoga Health, 16 1/2 N. 1st Avenue W. (upstairs)
Esther Bixler Piszczek will be debuting two large murals at this joint art opening with talented nature photographer Professor Ladona Tornabene, Ph.D. All sales of her photographs go to support a scholarship fund in the Art and Health program at UMD. Other galleries around town will also be open for the 2nd Friday Art Walk!
Tonight, 6-8 p.m.

PRØVE Gallery
"Origins" show featuring the artists who helped get Prøve off the ground, either in early shows or as part of the Old European Bakery shows that preceded Prøve Gallery. Details here.
7-11 p.m.

The Red Herring
Before you call it a night, be sure to stroll two blocks east on First Street to catch Gene Ritchie Monohan at The Red Herring.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it!

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