Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Women's Art Institute at St. Kate's

The Women's Art Institute at St. Kates is an interesting, intensive experience. For the last 16 years, for nearly 4 weeks, 5 days a week, 18 or so women meet with professors, visiting artists, art historians and make studio visits to working artists all while producing a "major body of work", informed by our work together.  This may well be a fitting definition for the word "INTENSE."  A lot of reading, writing, discussion, and, yes, sometimes tears, ensue.

I came to try to bring focus to my work, illuminate a path ahead for work and exhibition, and increase community.  While the months ahead will tell, I believe all three of those goals have been addressed.
I came with the intent of investigating the role of digital embroidery in my feminist art practice.  I did, indeed, fuss around a lot with the existing elements of this nascent installation of embroidered vulvas.  They are rather pretty and began to develop as characters  But I paused the project and will continue with it at a later time.

Why?  well, stuff happens!  Part of the project involved the development of wall paper for the installation.  When the wallpaper arrived from Spoonflower, it was beautiful...but WRONG for the project.  However, it was very right in and of itself.  It became a stand alone, editionable piece, entitled  THE BODY DISAPPEARS.  It is a print, 12' long and 2' wide and it is rich and beautiful.

While I was awaiting the arrival of the wallpaper, I began thinking that the project was not only about life but it was also about death:  the little deaths and the real bodily death.  So I began designing a black and white wallpaper.  I wanted to suggest the cycle of life by using white conte crayon on paper coated with chalkboard paint.  It gave a lovely ghosting effect to the drawing...

and then I could not stop.  The chalk drew me in, so to speak, and carried me onward.  I began to think in terms of an installation of drawings that surrounded me, going deeper and darker into the ideas of Eros and Thanatos.  I envisioned it as a frieze that would surround me.  Each frieze was about 18' long.  As the days progressed, the drawings changed and began to include bones and mysterious deep sea forms and slashing lines. Until...
It became this installation with a performance.  It had become clear that the drawings would not read properly in a single sentence around the room.  They needed to become a paragraph, with a sound track and performance.  The performance was simple:  I drew and erased, drew and erased, drew and erased.  In the end, the piece was 10' h by approximately 18 ' w.
sound loop for the performance of Eros and Thantos

8 panels of Eros and Thanatos will be shown briefly, July 11- July 18, in the galleries at the 
Catherine G. Murphy Gallery
                                              2004 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

July 11: 10am-7pm
July 12: 10 am-7:30pm
July 13-18: 4:30pm-8:30pm

July11-12 coincide with the Art Fair at St. Kates, which is a lovely event!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



QR code to take the survey

Gideon stands guard

Gideon wonders what I am up to


Preparing to install 160 tubes

Preparing to install

INVENTORY METHODS : do the math.

Inventory Methods is an artwork about accretion and subtraction; accumulation and reduction.

It is a record of old pajamas discarded as useless and accumulated as rags.

It is a record of weights, each tube containing 4 ounces of waste materials: rags.

It is a declaration of the beauty that remains in the devalued, worn, discarded.

It is a record of an ongoing process of reduction and a questioning of the nature of what, and who, we devalue and discard.

Each tube represent 4 ounces of weight lost: a reduction in body size, a quest for health and a consideration of the pressures on bodies to conform to cultural standards. 

Gaining and losing weight is very public.  Unless one hides away from the eyes of others, the process is subject to value judgments, comment, encouragement, discouragement, vilification. That which is intensely private and personal, becomes a public spectacle, subject to comment.

With this artwork I want to direct the commenting process, developing community conversation at the intersection of numbers and beauty. I will use a QR code to bring people into an active commenting process.

When did curves become unacceptable?   When did fat cease to represent wealth and fertility?  When did advanced age become frail and disrespected?  When did age, weight, beauty and numbers begin to intersect with moral judgements?

As I lost weight, I wanted to mark the progress, but also name as beautiful that which was subtracted.  I accumulated art as I reduce my size.

There are 160 tubes.  Do the math.

Take a survey to add language to INVENTORY METHODS

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Catching up a bit on the Windows on Cedar.

Please go to the gallery webpage and click on the archives!  It looks like I neglected to blog about the last 2 shows!!!!!!!!  And now there is a new one in the windows.  

The marvelous work of Ayanna Muata was in the windows  October through December, 2014. She was followed by the young illustrator Nathan Motzko.

NOW SHOWING in the Susan Hensel Window Gallery Windows are fifteen paintings by Iraqi artists and presented to you by Iraqi American Reconciliation Project (IARP), a Minneapolis based non-profit. This exhibition which features paintings on raw canvases tells a story about a group of artists who began sending their paintings to Minnesota in the hopes of being heard and understood.

In 2005, a group of trained, professional artists in Najaf and Karbala, Iraq who were affiliated with IARP’s sister program, the Muslim Peace Maker’s team sent their art work to IARP rolled in the suitcases of those participating in peacemaking exchanges between the U.S. and Iraq. IARP had the loose canvas paintings stretched and framed and then displayed them in coffee shops, churches and galleries. Over the years these paintings have been shown in over fifty galleries and public spaces in Minneapolis. IARP’s art program has greatly expanded to include a documentary video series, bookmaking program as well as several curated exhibits that have toured the country. As the ten-year anniversary of the Iraqi Art Program approaches we believe that it is only appropriate to highlight some of these paintings and to take a look back at the messages of peace and understanding that they inspired.

To learn more about the artwork and Iraqi American Art Project please visit:


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robyn Hendrix Contraptions in the Windows on Cedar Project

If you came during the day, you may see Gideon in the window.

Do come by and see the Contraptions in the evening.  They GLOW!  During the day, Robyn's installation is  a quieter affair, wonderful to walk up to and examine closely.  

Robyn posted a bunch of photos on her website.  Go look at them.  They are wonderful!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

CONTRAPTIONS in the Windows!

 What a pleasure it is to present Robyn Hendrix quirky watercolors in the windows!  She first showed with Susan Hensel Gallery in 2009. ( the Leap of Faith 5)  This suite, playing with transparency and light is entitled CONTRAPTIONS.

Gideon is always a big help installing the windows.
This image appears in part of the window.

Robyn's Artists Statement
I create delicate, textured watercolor paintings of whimsical imagery inspired by landscape, nature and biology. My work is informed by an upbringing in the Palouse landscape of Eastern Washington, time spent abroad in Ecuador and Australia, and a passion for education and community development. The playful, semi-abstract imagery I use is derived mostly from free-association drawing and “doodling” which brings out specific forms that I repeat and re-mutate over and over. These organic “characters” are very plant and nature-inspired (trees, seed pods, stones) but are often interpreted as both microscopic (bacteria, DNA, or neural transmitters) and macroscopic (constellations, galaxies, or nebulae). The addition of more architectural elements hints at my curiosity about the similarities between the things we build, and the things we are built of.

I work as an Artist Organizer with the Friendly Streets Initiative and coordinate social media for the Irrigate project. I was a 2013 Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute fellow and previously served on the Board and Exhibitions Committee for the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM). Thanks for taking a look! Please visit to see more of my work.

Monday, June 16, 2014

MUSIC! In the Windows!

Noelle Rollins, a painter from Crystal, MN,  has brought art and music together in the windows through  the end of July. 

 She has said, My mission is to bring light to the positive, beautiful and spiritual side of life through my art, stories and bringing together an inspiring group. I aim to do these while respecting the earths beauty and resources, much of my work is done on repurposed materials. I love to paint the things that bring us closer to our most inspired, authentic and soulful selves. In my shop you’ll find music artwork, soulful yoga and meditative artwork, sports, florals and more.  I often infuse my artwork with poetry and uplifting messages.  All things that inspire different sides of me and my clients.
There are times to sit back, reflect and to quietly listen to our inner voices, there are other times where we are ready to go out let the world know we me mean business, and have things to share. As I’ve tried to narrow my body of work to just one artwork style I’ve really realized that many are necessary in life, the yin and yang that makes the world go ’round. Let’s celebrate our strengths, empowered lives and our soft, reflective, intuitive sides simultaneously."

Monday, March 3, 2014

IN THE WINDOWS: The Quilting Bee/Artist Salon Project

Artist Statement
Mary Bergs 

The Quilting Bee/Artist Salon Project

The idea for the project is modeled on traditional quilting bees in which women brought fabric scraps to each other’s homes and assembled the scraps into quilts. They worked side by side creating functional objects of great beauty.  This is no longer a common practice in our culture; in fact, there are few opportunities for side by side making.  Working with our hands in the presence of others is a condition that creates intimacy and a feeling of comfort, even amongst strangers. The level of engagement and enthusiasm of participants in the salons surprised me and confirmed my idea that there is value in creating opportunities to make in the context of community.  I am very grateful for the artists who donated work, for the many people who came to help stitch and for the organizations that hosted the events and the exhibition. 

Mary Bergs is a Minneapolis artist who works with found materials and objects, combining them into installations, collage, and community based art projects. Bergs works with objects that have been discarded or devalued, through careful selection and arrangement she examines the poetic nature of the material world and the beauty found in everyday experience. She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows in the Midwest.  Her work is included in the artist registry of the Drawing Center in New York.  She is a recipient of a 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant, Jerome Travel Study Grant and a MSAB Artist Opportunity grant.