Monday, July 6, 2020

Local Art Seen: Yes, Duluth Art Institute Is Open Aagain

From "The Long Journey" (detail)
Last week I saw an announcement that the Duluth Art Institute was opening up on July 1. Naturally I stopped in the next day and did a walk-through. This is a brief intro to some of what you'll find if you go.

Sue Rauschenfels: Sisterhood
Several of Rauschenfels paintings reminded me stylistically of
Carla Hamilton's colorful portrayals of people.
If you take the elevator to the DAI offices on the fourth floor of the Depot, the hallway where you emerge is called The Corridor Gallery. Sue Rauschenfels acrylic and water colors line the walls here. The theme is Sisterhood.

Either I never knew or had forgotten, but Rauschenfels is one of six sisters, hence the paintings have a more natural origin than I'd imagined.

The artist's statement speaks of the international interconnectedness of women across boundaries, and the challenges of connecting as well as the everyday world in which they live.

The Pike Lake artist is a member of the Lake Superior Abstract Group. You can find more of Rauschefels' work at 47 Degrees Gallery in Knife River, MN and Art on the Planet Gallery in Superior, WI.

Kari Halker-Saathoff: Odysseus & Penelope: The Long Journey
Halker-Saathoff's work appears to be a composite of several passions. As an artist, she works in ceramics and is also an illustrator, hence the unique form her works take.

The title is indicative of the origins for this collection of work. Most will recognize the influence of Greek mythology in general and specifically Homer's Odyssey. The artist's wife happens to be named Penelope, so that brings these stories closer to home. The art therefore reflects a merging of ancient stories with contemporary ones.

From the DAI show description: Halker-Saathoff describes Penelope’s situation, “Suitors invaded her home, ate her food, threatened her son, assaulted her servants, and pressured her to remarry. In resisting the suitors Penelope had to use all her resources, showing herself to be as courageous, wily, and brilliant a figure as Odysseus. The courage of her resistance is the inspiration for my interpretation and the struggle of women’s persecution and for equality are ever present.”

Emily Stokes: Reveal
I've always been fascinated by printmaking of all stripes and the unique manner in which Emily Stokes combines painting, drawing and digital imaging to produce her work is quite intriguing.

There are actually two kinds of things to see here in the Steffl Gallery. Her small mixed media panels on the walls, and also something akin to "books" that unfold in a systematic but unconventional manner. The work purportedly explores “how economic and demographic shifts impact traditions and how these shifts are revealed in the symbols around us.”

I myself found much of it to be elegant and distinctive iconography that begs to be examined more deeply. For this reason I recommend a leisurely unhurried visit to the gallery in order to have more time to engage those pieces that especially resonate with you visually or psychologically.

Stokes, who received her MFA at Arizona State (printmaking), teaches at Northwestern University in Orange City, Iowa.

Tia Salmela Keobounpheng: Bloodline
The artist works in a multimedia three-dimensional form so it technically falls into the category of sculpture. Two of the four pieces in this series are in the Mayor's Reception Room as part of the ongoing relationship between the DAI and City Hall.

Here is the beginning of her statement about the work: “Combining scientific and mythical concepts, I imagine the ways that my grandmothers are part of me despite the fact that I have no lived experience with them. What began as a quest to define the void that I perceive (they would have filled) has led me on a journey of uncovering history that is both fact and inferred.

A graduate of Central High School here in Duluth, her Finnish roots provide a foundation for a portion of her inspiration. Tia Keo lives and works in North Minneapolis.

* * * *
Emily Stokes
Sue Rauschenfels
Kari Halker-Saathoff
Odysseus and Penelope

For more in-depth commentary on these current exhibits visit the DAI's Current Exhibitions page.

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