The Local Artist had the chance to sit down with Jana Anderson and her friendly dog, Olivia, at her in-home studio. Jana graduated in 2011 with a degree in Studio Art from Hamline University, and moved to Sioux Falls after her time in St. Paul. Jana is warm-hearted, quick to laugh, and approached the interview with the same honesty and sensitivity that she does with her work.
TLA- Let’s start at the beginning. When did you decide to become an artist?
JA- It wasn’t really a decision, and at times it feels like a curse. I went to college thinking I would probably end up being an art teacher. I liked art, I thought I would be a good teacher, and that’s about as far as it got. During the first real, college-level art class I took I almost immediately thought that this was all I wanted to do. Getting into college and realizing that I didn’t care about anything except painting and drawing was kind of a weird experience for me, but I took it all in and kept painting. Coming back to Sioux Falls is actually when I made the decision to get into the art community and try to show and sell work.
TLA- Why has art become important to you?
JA- I’ve described it lately as a compulsion. Creating images and creating things feels like something I have to do and when I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it. It feels like there are these things I need to get out and art is the way I’ve explored and learned how to do that.
TLA- What other interests do you have? Artistic or otherwise?
JA- I’m a very tactile person. I like doing things with my hands so I knit and crochet, I play piano, and I’m trying to teach myself how to play guitar, but it’s not going well. I also like movement, so I like doing yoga and cooking. I do watch a lot of TV and I love having the TV on in the background when I paint.
TLA- How do these tactile activities inform your paintings?
JA- I tried to do a big series one time about elevating yarn work, knitting and crocheting into painting. I feel like these activities are so artistic, but they are so technical too. Crocheting especially is very meditative, like playing piano. When my hands are moving I’m able to think a little bit better, I guess. Even cooking feels like that, you’re working to create something else and it’s stimulating your mind and your soul and it’s emotional. It’s an emotional thing.
TLA- This environment is your studio and your home. How does that influence you?
JA- I like living with my paintings. I like to be surrounded by them and have a lot of space to stare at them, and not just work on them. I can see how they feel in daily life.
TLA- What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Have they affected how you create art?
JA- Totally! I’m a nanny and I’ve been a full time nanny since I moved back here three years ago. It’s just a job that came out of happenstance and turned into a really good thing, but I realized that kids are such good artists. They’re so free and they explore colors and different mediums without any forethought. I’ve brought them over to my studio several times, and together we create pieces that might not look like my finished pieces, but we create art. I work with one five-year-old who will paint something and then I’ll paint and draw on top of it and then I’ll give it back to him. It’s this kind of back and forth that helps me be really free, and those things have actually turned out to be some pretty cool artwork. Kids have a quality of line when they’re drawing that’s very exploratory, and that’s interesting to me. Sometimes I get really tight and working with them helps me loosen up a little bit.
TLA- Can you take me through your studio practice from the beginning of an idea to creating a finished artwork?
JA- I think I have a few different ways of working and this series is a little of a departure from before, when I really liked reacting to living, breathing things. There’s definitely a routine that’s discombobulated, but it’s about pushing through those times when you’re not feeling inspired; working when you don’t want to work. Otherwise I think I’d stop and take lots of breaks, and sometimes I do. I spend a lot of time looking at things; it takes me a long time to process a few marks that might have been made before I return to it. Oil paint teaches me patience because sometimes I’ll want to layer things, but I’ll need to let the first layer dry first.
TLA- Regarding the series you’re currently working on; where did these photos come from and what do they mean to you?
JA- I had this stack of photographs that were my Mom’s. They were shot in ’72 and ’73, and appear to be from family vacations through Canada and Minnesota. I connected to a lot of the places and I liked the look of them. They’ve been a part of developing my aesthetic. They just have a lot to say about the time, about who was there, and the color of the day. I’ve been looking at them for a long time, and then that led to finally painting them.
TLA- How much of this series is about the relationship between you and your family?
JA- They’re definitely about my mom. She came to my show at the Museum of Visual Materials and had no idea what they were from. My mom and I are relatively close, but we are very different. These were taken over forty years ago, so I think there’s an effort to connect to her and what her experience might have been through time and space through this little universe of a photograph. The more you look at a photograph it gets engrained in your mind, and you might convince yourself that you were there. I think that’s really interesting.
That’s how memory works, too. Every time you remember a specific event, you become further and further from the reality of it and more into a creative experience that you’ve put together in your head. I interpret my mom’s life, and re-interpret my own life, and my hope is that it also transcends to the viewer, and that there’s some level of familiarity. Since the photos are from the same region, I think these are places that feel familiar even if I haven’t been there. It seems that every place calls together everything that’s ever happened there throughout time and space... I watch a lot of Dr. Who. [laughter]
You can see Jana Anderson’s paintings exhibited at Faini Designs Jewelry Studio during the month of June 2015 with an opening reception June 10th, from 6-8pm.
Fueled by materials that are often discarded and overlooked, Dave develops multiple works simultaneously. While working, he identifies relationships between objects and allows the inherent qualities of the material to guide his decisions. Environmentally loaded materials such as packing foam and scrap plastic are given new life in Dave’s work with the intent to produce wonder and empathy for our world. Dave finds value in being immersed in a creative community. His other artistic outlets are writing poetry and collaborating with his band. He aspires to produce exhibits that empower progressive ideas and unify community. Dave graduated in 2011 with his BFA in sculpture from USD.
Amy’s work is something fresh. Her background is in academic English and History, but (thankfully) she began creating visual art two years ago. She relies on her intuition to guide her next move, rather than formal artistic training. This time-intensive process yields collages and mixed media work that appears playful and inviting, but doesn’t sacrifice boldness. She feels that working responsively produces more genuine images and reactions.
Amy’s work can be viewed publicly at Coffea in downtown Sioux Falls during May of 2015. You’ll be able to view works with drawings, strings, paint, weaving, etc. These varied styles will certainly keep your mind engaged.
On a table in his living room, Jerry mixes small parts and artifacts that he finds at local thrift stores with his own intuition as well as legends, stories, and observations of his culture. His products are mostly one-of-a-kind works that aim to tell a story. He’s sensitively aware of the history in South Dakota, where he’s spent most of his life.
Jerry has taught art at Marty Indian School, where he finds great reward in sharing the value of creativity in the development of local youth. You can view a few of his works in the permanent collection of the Siouxland Library, and his work “Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum” in the Governer’s 6th Biennial Art Exhibit, traveling the state.