Cassie’s obsessively representational paintings contain some small toys and very big ideas. She sets herself within a long history of painters exploring the limits of representation. However, Cassie paints her subjects decidedly twice removed from reality; paintings of a still life representing a landscape. Cassie works in a home studio in Madison, SD, where she also teaches at Dakota State University. Her long list of credentials include multiple solo exhibits and inclusion to national publications.
Raised on a healthy diet of cartoons and MAD magazine, Marc Wagner’s playful drawings are deceivingly innocent. These bright colors tend to tell some dark stories. Marc’s current work addresses the subconscious mind, sometimes his own, by working quickly and watching to see what happens. He also addresses our culture’s bombardment of images, and the popular characters that have become cultural icons.
Most of Marc’s images are marker & pen, but he will occasionally use his printmaking background for different imagery. Marc lives in Sioux Falls with his wife, Allison, and dogs, Maggie & Winston.
In Brookings’ “Flat-Iron Studio,” Harriet has spent the last three years devoting her time to art-making after a long career in biology. While her professional work has long funded her artistic exploration, that’s not the only way the two have interacted. She continues to study the microscopic world, and cites the influence that current neuroscience research has on her. Harriet’s ability to play is uniquely reckless. It’s not uncommon to visit her studio and find a nice drawing to have been torn up and used to collage something entirely new. Harriet has exhibited and been published in both Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Local Artist had the pleasure of visiting Christopher Meyer at his home studio (a farm-turned-art-haven) north of Vermillion, SD. Christopher Meyer is an assistant professor of sculpture at USD, and uses a wide range of media in his work. Aside from being a prolific artist, Christopher was nominated for the Belbas-Larson Excellence in Teaching Award.
TLA - You have a beautiful place up here! Thanks for sitting down with us. Have you been a South Dakotan long?
C - I grew up in South Dakota actually; in the Northeast part of the state. I’ve been in South Dakota the majority of my life I suppose, except for leaving to go to graduate school (University of Montana) and spending some time after that around Iowa City.
TLA - Did you find that being a resident of that Montana environment effected you in different ways than this environment?
CM- Yeah, I think so because it was a different place, and I’m always affected by place wherever I happen to be. I’d say that’s probably true for every place I’ve lived. Missoula was in the mountains, so space is a sculptural thing that really affects you. The way that space feels and how forms occupy it was a big shift; because I felt like I was living in a bowl. Missoula is a really deep valley and it’s like somebody clicks a switch in the morning and the lights are on and the same thing at night. You can’t see the sunset, you can’t see the thunderstorms rolling in from forever. It’s a different quality of light, I felt kind of caged in/boxed in and I couldn’t see anything. I took a good year for me to get comfortable living in the mountains until I found that it’s a different space. Here (South Dakota) it’s subtle because you can see things, and they have time to grow on you and fester in you more. There, it’s a lot more impulsive.
TLA - Could you sum up what you feel is the overall affect of the plains on your work?
CM- Observation I’d say. Observation of the way everything works together through the subtleties that you see. I think it’s since I’ve moved out here, you know, I’m outside more, and see the little things and the way things work around here. Plus in Vermillion, SD you’re not distracted by a whole lot of anything either, so it gives you time to look at things more closely, to focus on things more. In Missoula, there was a lot more people with more varied backgrounds, so, that was more stimulating. Plus there was a lot more going on in terms of art and culture. It’s closer to the west, it’s only eight hours from Seattle.
TLA - Does it vary in the season as far as what media you’re working with? And that changing? Where are you at right now?
CM- You know, now that its winter I’m probably in my lowest stage in being stimulated by the outside environment. I’ve been thinking a lot about bare sticks and that kind of stuff lately. I’ve got ideas of longer-term series, and it seems that I pick that stuff up in the winter. And in the summer, I’m stimulated by the water, my garden, things like that. In the fall I’m usually collecting things to make molds out of, and so on. I’m trying to always be open to whatever it is I’m working on because that can always lead to the next thing. It depends upon who’s around me, and what I’m reading about.
TLA - If you had to pick a favorite thing about South Dakota either personally or artistically what would it be?
CM - Well, I can give you… You want one favorite thing about South Dakota?
TLA - Just one. (laughter)
C- Well, hmm…Well I guess I like the expanse, the space, and what possibilities that entails. And I mean that in terms of artistic space and also in terms of the amount and type of people that are here. So, space and potential I guess is what I would call those two things. Space kind of determines what the potentials are from even the people who grew up around here. I find that students who are geared toward sculpture already have a little bit more handing with material; especially if they grew up working on a farm or a ranch. In everyday life around here people still build things, and a lot of them still do yard work, and still have a little bit of common sense on how materials and processes work in a physical sense.
TLA - Interesting, so do you feel that South Dakotans are better prepared to become sculptors?
CM - Well, in one sense, yes. And on the other hand, no, because culturally, I don’t think there is as much exposure to ideas and different ways of thinking as there are other places. So that’s the balance, I guess.
TLA - How does your studio process typically work?
CM - As far as what inspires me in terms of inception to creation, I just kind of observe and remember things, and I’ll collect materials, and set them aside until something manifests itself out of the material. Usually those ideas tend to be fairly formal. Sometimes, I will just witness the characteristics of the material and things that it can do, and that might lead to ideas for how I use it and what kinds of things want to make. Like I said before about observations, I don’t even necessarily draw anymore. Sometimes I do, when I’m struggling on a piece, trying to figure out how to make something work, or how to make it look right. But most of the time, I just start working with the material, and react to my process. I guess you kind of have to know that not every piece is always successful…when you need to put more into it, or when to stop.
TLA - So, if you weren’t an artist or a teacher, how would you make your money?
CM - I don’t know, I like plants a whole lot and I suppose if didn’t go into art I could see myself possibly going into botany or something like that.
Diana Behl’s recent work embodies an assortment of material exploration, including print media, collage and gouache. Her images are prompted by specific instances—memories of places visited, passages read, bits of everyday references, or interactions of material and form—both in and outside of the studio. Using these prompts, her practice then evolves around the improvisation and discovery uncovered while making, further enabling form to embody the evolution of that specific cue. Diana lives and works in Brookings, South Dakota.