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Two Art Professors Awarded Minnesota State Arts Board Grants

Professors of Art Amanda Hamilton and Michelle Westmark Wingard ’00 each received $10,000 Artist Initiative grants to explore new directions for their work this year.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, GS'16, new media strategist

February 15, 2019 | 3 p.m.

Recent on-campus exhibitions by Professors of Art Michelle Westmark Wingard (left, Olson Gallery) and Amanda Hamilton (right, Johnson Gallery). Both professors are recipients of 2019 Artist Initiative grants.

Recent on-campus exhibitions by Professors of Art Michelle Westmark Wingard (left, Olson Gallery) and Amanda Hamilton (right, Johnson Gallery). Both professors are recipients of 2019 Artist Initiative grants.

“As professors, it’s so important that we model to our students what it’s like to juggle full art practices and teaching practices—and life and kids,” says Professor of Art Michelle Westmark Wingard, one of three Bethel artists to be awarded $10,000 Artist Initiative grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board for 2019. Wingard joins Professor of Art Amanda Hamilton as two of 106 award recipients for projects in dance, media arts, music, photography, poetry, prose, theater, and visual arts. Alumna Krista Anderson-Larson ’16 also received a grant.

The Artist Initiative grant provides funding to artists at all stages of their careers, to support artistic development, nurture artistic creativity, and recognize the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota. Grant applications are evaluated by a panel of previous grant awardees—with the hearing open to the public—and funded by the Cultural Heritage Fund for the purpose of preserving the state’s creative culture.

Hamilton will build on recent, compact paintings that were abstract and highly textured. As she exhibited her recent “Dark Adaptation” collection—which was on view at Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis in spring 2018—she frequently heard the suggestion to try printmaking with the pieces.

She will use her grant funding to purchase a small press and explore the creative process behind her work. She will integrate printmaking into her practice by using her abstract paintings as plates from which to print, possibly using that technique to capture specific stages in the journey to the completion of a piece. The hope is to expose the viewer to the process—which is sometimes messy, meandering, and marred—instead of simply presenting a polished piece.

“There’s value in the process of studio experimentation—just showing up and engaging,” says Hamilton. “I keep thinking of ‘ghost prints’—something that simultaneously is and is not.” She will exhibit the work in a Minnesota venue and host a workshop in her Northeast Arts District studio, and is looking forward to the connections the experience will help her make with the wider Minnesota art community.

“There are some amazing artists that have been really generous with their time and ideas throughout this process—it’s built some wonderful connections already,” Hamilton says. “There’s significant art being created through this program, but it’s also helping to maintain the Twin Cities’ reputation as a place that support its artists.” Find out more about Hamilton’s work here.

 

“There’s significant art being created through this program, but it’s also helping to maintain the Twin Cities’ reputation as a place that support its artists.”

— Amanda Hamilton, professor of art

Over the past few years—including through the same grant in 2017—Wingard has been researching her grandfather’s plane crash in Belgium in World War II. She’s traveled to the site of the crash, capturing images of the countryside there and being a part of a memorial service for the crew. She’s compared accounts of the crash and created vinyl overlays of the Belgian landscape to put on top of windows in Minnesota, juxtaposing different places and viewpoints. She’s explored the shadow cast by a plane on a window in Bethel’s Olson Gallery and captured four-hour time-lapse videos of it moving over walls and through interior spaces. And she created a Tower Viewer in which a visitor could see the plane on top of their normal view.

“You can’t access those landscapes anymore,” she says of the Belgian site that—up until recently—her family knew very little about. It exists today, but not as it once was, and its memory and effect are different depending on the viewer and their connection to the events that happened there. That perception, that distortion, is something Wingard has tried to explore visually through a variety of means and media.

“The interesting thing about a grant like this—and art in general—is that sometimes you think you know what you will do. But as you begin, you find a bigger story that’s not as easily nailed down,” Wingard says. “The optics of a Tower Viewer are meant to bring you closer to something you can’t ever reach. But it’s just another thing standing between you and what you’re trying to see.” Through this year’s grant, she will explore a new direction in the work, creating a larger-scale, high-resolution photo installation, time-lapse videos, and memorial tiles with a pop-up exhibition and critique event. Learn more about Wingard’s work here.

“The interesting thing about a grant like this—and art in general—is that sometimes you think you know what you will do. But as you begin, you find a bigger story that’s not as easily nailed down,”

— Michelle Westmark Wingard, professor of art
Students work in the graphic design lab at Bethel University

Study art and design at Bethel.

The Department of Art and Design features four majors and two minors, and students have the opportunity to learn from prominent artists who exhibit work at Bethel’s two on-campus galleries. Students have the opportunity to show their work in the Bethel galleries and in the Minneapolis art district, and also to grow as artists through faculty feedback and collaboration on installations, research, publications, and grants.

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