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I was in Northfield a couple weeks ago!  I visited expressly to see a few events that were very important to me when I was at Carleton: Empty Bowls, the senior art show, and the fifth-year show at the NAG.  This is the first of the posts about those wonderful events, a post about “Again, Again” and the fantastic work created by my friends and Carleton fifth-year interns Kristina Eldrenkamp and Emma Bentley.

Again, Again series by Joey Fleming; the rest of the exhibit in the background

Emma has a true gift with words (she even won the Huntington Poetry Prize at Carleton), and combines poetry and visual interest in such a way that could be overpowering would that the phrases weren’t so perfect.  My mother “didn’t get” the collected cigarette butts, but I think that’s maybe because she was trying to read more into it.  Knowing Emma, I don’t see some post-modern, post-everything piece about health and smoking or any of that art school too-overt stuff.  I mean, maybe it was, but like the titles say they’re For Tony not for you.  I see them as collections, arranged beautifully and masterfully inside precious fixed spaces.  The other piece of hers in the show was For Starters, a poem in the form of a list, in the form of silk screened words, arranged on blocks on the wall.  The phrases are at once delicate and commanding, filled with the nuance of experience and inexperience.  Some of my favorite phrases (which were extremely difficult to narrow down because I love every single word):

I want to be the kind of woman who you can just tell that she’s serious about her future.

I want to be in a railroad town in 1903, and I want that railroad town to be Las Vegas, Nevada.

I want to be in Texas in the early 90’s and I want to be raising children there, in Texas in the early 90’s.

I want music in my head all day long.

I want to love my body.

I want to hug people casually, without feeling uncomfortable.

I want to be hugged.

I want to be the kind of woman who accepts that she will be misunderstood, who maybe sometimes even wants that.

I want to believe that aging isn’t so bad.

I want to age gracefully.

I don’t want to age.

My mother saw the show before I did and she loved Kristina’s maps.  It’s hard for me to imagine works that could be better suited to my mother’s interests.

  1. She is extremely forgetful, so the houses Kristina created would be perfect for her.
  2. She works at the Department of City Development, so she deals with houses and maps and plans all the time.  She also used to be an appraiser and has an enormous appreciation for new and historical architecture alike.

It’s sort of like Kristina’s drawings were made for her.  Besides my mother’s endless admiration, her work is very thoughtful and combines her interests in a way that isn’t just interesting to her.  I too loved the house plans, but, being a print girl, her pieces Boden I, II, and III were beautiful and fascinating.  Color intaglio is difficult and weird, but she is the kind of woman who loves a clean print so I can really see her embracing the challenge.  The prints were subtle and intricate and layered and I think I could stare at them for hours without losing interest.  Emma and Kristina are two tremendously talented women and I am so pleased I got to see what they have been working on since our senior show.

The show also features the work of the St. Olaf fifth-year interns, Molly Baeverstad, Joey Fleming, Erica Naylor, Dylan Nelson, and Trygve Wastvedt.  I find that I never really come away from a group show being impressed with everyone, so I’m going to talk about he artists I really loved, Baeverstad, Fleming, and, to a lesser extent, Naylor.

Molly Baeverstad did a series of color monoprints, each with delightfully strange names that were almost close to words I recognized (so I really apologize if I wrote some down wrong) [Update: I figured out how I recognized some of them].  I love how the prints turned out, but I really want to ask her about her process.  How many layers, what kind of ink, what kind of plates.  The designs were abstract, colorful, layered, delicate.  Mostly I just wanted to talk to her more about them.  I loved them, but I’m confident I would love them more if I had more information.

Joey Fleming’s work was really a treat.  There was a wide range of material that it was hard not to be interested.  I liked the work he did with text, mostly I loved how beautifully the text was rendered onto the clay and the interaction with the glaze, but the text itself was sort of hit or miss.  I’m generally not a fan of spreading text out over a bunch of pots, but it’s usually at least a little interesting.  What really interested me about Fleming’s work was the faceted vases and cups.  Those pieces had such grace and motion without being “perfect” in the classic porcelain sense.  The glaze worked with the forms, giving a great variation of surface and color.  I am a huge fan of purposeful imperfection in clay.  Imperfection can often mean badly thrown, heavy, and accidentally glazed well.  Fleming’s pieces were imperfect, but in the beautiful, effortless way that comes from hard work, trial and error, talent and luck.  There was also a huge volume of his work in the show, which to me indicates so much hard work because for every piece you include there are probably two or three you left out.

There are more comments about specific pieces in the photo gallery, so I encourage clicking around to see and read more.  Unfortunately, you missed your shot to see Again, Again at the Northfield Arts Guild if you’re reading this now.  It was a really excellent show, and I am really pleased I got to see it when I visited.

Click through to see a gallery of images from the show.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in my garden digging up these hellish bushes to make way for veggies.  It started pretty normal, but turned into this intense personal vendetta against these awful, horrible, rude bushes.  The root ball is so enormous and the soil is so full of clay!  I spend all day, hours and hours, hemming and hawing, wrenching these terrible plants out of the ground.  The ground does not want to let them go, but I’m not about to be bossed around by a stupid bush.  Hell to the no.

I’ve started to envision a PBS gardening show based on these little adventures.  I know there’s a show called “the Victory Garden.”  I’ve never seen it but I know it’s there. On PBS.  And it has something to do with gardens.  My show would immediately follow it and be called “Victory Over the Garden” wherein I would do extreme pruning, invasive plant eviction, and pest kick-assery.  I would administer my own brand of swift garden justice.  To the garden victor go the garden spoils.  The more I think about this, the more I feel and sound like a garden tyrant.  I sound like an Ivan the Terrible, but I swear I’m more of a Catherine the Great.

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