Women, Leadership, and the Power of Collaboration
Intersections is the evidence of multiple crossing points:
collaborative studio projects between teachers and
students and alumni, discussions among women leaders
in the arts, and interrelationships among eleven art
departments in the greater Twin Cities area.
The idea for this exhibition began with fourteen
women who are current or recent studio art
department chairs, engaged in very similar
institutional activities, often in isolation. The
traditional academic leadership model that
creates that isolation begs to be challenged.
Contemporary studio practice, on the other
hand, is developing increasingly sophisticated
collaborative models. The challenge is to
discover how these practices might inform
teaching and learning. And in turn, how does
pedagogy inform leadership? The reciprocity
among the practices of teaching, leading, and
making speaks to the challenge, fostering open
discussion and encouraging flexible process.
Established artists/teachers let go of their set
practices, and students and recent alumni
explored unfamiliar directions. As the relationship
between teacher and student intertwined,
collaboration dissipated hierarchical roles. The
process of creating work became a form of
joint mentoring, reversing normal relationships
of power through mutual learning. These
collaborations had an element of risk taking,
with a public exposition of work not readily
couched in the artists’ usual studio practices.
With team participants at differing points in
their careers and having vastly different life
experiences, each of them is a reminder and a
projection in the continuum of what it means
to be an artist. Talking and making, questioning
and challenging are the essential elements
common to all of the projects presented. The
open exchange and shifting boundaries among
those elements are also essential to leadership.
It is my hope that Intersections is just the
beginning of many more exchanges.
to make this exhibition possible. The project
is an extension of two leadership fellowships I
was fortunate to receive during my sabbatical
from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design
(MCAD): a Bush Leadership Fellowship and an
American Council on Education Fellowship. I
thank Kerry Morgan, director of MCAD Gallery,
for her ability to envision this show long before
the work was completed; Patricia Briggs
for her essay that frames the ideas and the
work in a larger context; Nicole Summers
of MCAD DesignWorks for the smart and
gorgeous design of this catalog; Kristine Wyant,
director of corporate and foundation relations
at MCAD, for her clarifying questions and
assistance. I especially thank the artists/
leaders/teachers/students—all one and the
same—who participated in this project.
Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
For Intersections, each woman invited students
or alumni to engage in a collaborative project that
would include dialogue about art and process.
Collaboration means “to work together,” and
there were many institutions and individuals,
beyond the studio artists, who worked together
CROSSINGS | Intersections presents aesthetic experiments in collaboration
that suggest we revisit our basic assumptions about art making.
Collaborative art practices are significant because they challenge the
way that we define the artist as an individual in the modernist sense,
a singular, self-contained, free agent. Philosophers call this framework for
understanding identity the “autonomous subject.”
Within critical debates inside and outside the
art world, alternative models of subjectivity
consider identity to be fragmentary, fluid,
and collaborative have largely displaced the
“autonomous subject.” In the world of the visual
arts we still conceptualize the “artist” as
essentially singular and autonomous: Artists are
loners, outsiders, expressionists, individualists.
The truth is that although many of us intellectually
accept the critical consensus that there is no
such thing as an “autonomous subject,” we have
not developed robust alternative collaborative
models of art production to use in our studios
and classrooms. Intersections mobilized fourteen
teams of artists to experiment over the course
of a year with collaborative practices. Their
presentations and writing provide us with
practical examples for developing art-making
strategies that push beyond our usual default,
the solitary individualist.
VOICES CROSSING | Intersections demonstrates that
collaborative artistic practices make participants
engaged viewers. Aesthetic collaborators are not
autonomous agents crafting objects alone in their
studios, but rather are typically two or more people
locked in intensive conversation about their own
and each other’s work.
One could say that the medium of collaboration
is conversation. Dialogue is one of the most
important products of collaboration. It was
through discussion and writing, for example, that
painters Alexis Kuhr and Stephanie Thompson
developed a new understanding of their individual
approaches to geometric abstraction as different
“ways of knowing the world.” Their collaboration
spurred in each a sense of urgency to become
more actively engaged in the larger contemporary
discussion about abstraction as an important
vehicle for thinking and communicating. Stevie
Rexroth and S. Catrin Magnusson also used
collaboration as a framework for intensive
analysis. For this team, discussion yielded a
descriptive architectural vocabulary linked to
digital technology that captures more precisely
the shared qualities in their work than the
formalist language they inherited from the fine
The benefits of this kind of dialogue are difficult
to quantify and therefore often go unrecognized.
Yet, we know that a perfectly chosen reading
recommendation made by an artist with insight
into one’s work can change the course of
an entire project. Last summer, Hannah Geil-
Neufeld suggested that her teacher Chris Willcox
read Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, featuring
fisherman climbing ladders from their boats
to the moon and drinking ”moon milk.” Geil-
Neufeld’s fantastic landscape subjects culled
from childhood memories, together with Calvino’s
imagery, encouraged Willcox to see new ways
of overlapping the real with the imaginary in
her own Arctic landscapes.
Another benefit of aesthetic collaboration is that
an artist can simply relax and be inspired by her
collaborator(s). A painter, Kim Benson focuses on
the subject of human suffering and consistently
holds images of the body in pain within her
frame. Inspired by Benson’s treatment of the
disturbing subject of the war injured, Jenkins
recommitted to a series of drawings devoted to
prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib, a project she had
earlier abandoned in frustration. Triangulating
one’s work with similar work by other artists is
not encouraged in the professional art world,
where artists are likely to see each other as
competitors rather than collaborators or allies.
As we have seen, support and encouragement
often come with collaboration, but actually making
artwork with another person or other people
is quite difficult. How does a team produce an
object for display when they don’t share a studio
or live near one another? Nobody wants to turn art
making into one more thing done by scheduling
Fear of losing control of the quality and form
that the final work will take is another obstacle
coauthors of works often face. Letting go and
trusting in the process took some getting used to
for Alyssa Baguss and Lynda Monick-Isenberg,
who developed a strategy of “joined authorship”
by alternately working on a single drawing that was
handed back and forth between them every two
weeks. Incorporating discussion of their drawing into
the process by “uploading questions, research, and
reactions” onto a shared website, this collaboration
yielded so many new ideas, techniques, and subjects
that Baguss and Monick-Isenberg are planning an
ongoing aesthetic partnership. After a rocky start,
Mary Griep and Adelyn Rosenwinkel imposed a
few controls—working with aerial photography, for
example, and using the same type of paper to draw
on—to be assured that the final piece would hold
together. They then found themselves freed to
focus on the exploration of the landscape around
Northfield, which is their shared interest.
TEMPORAL CROSSINGS | Painters love to look back in time. Patricia Olson and Roxi Swanson
used Intersections to deepen their engagement with art of the past. These figurative
painters switched places with models featured in famous portraits from art history as
a way of metaphorically getting inside the skin of inspirational masters, as when Olson
represented herself as Max Beckmann in his 1907 Self-Portrait in Tuxedo.
This dialogue with the past becomes denser
yet when Swanson represented Olson in Egon
Schiele’s Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Standing,
and Olson placed Swanson—tattooed arms and
all—in Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres’s 1851
portrait of Madame Moitessier. Paying homage
to tradition in such a literal way, without irony,
is risky in an art world that values individuality
and singularity above most things. Intersections
offered Olson and Swanson the perfect opportunity
to challenge these unwritten assumptions with
a game of art historical time travel.
A number of the teams address, either directly
or indirectly, the issue of temporality in their
projects for Intersections. For example, Elaine
Rutherford, Steven Lemke, Nate Burbeck, and
Chloe Briggs developed an installation about
their shared interest in remembering, which
explores the relationship of memory to souvenirs
and mementos. Projecting images of their own
vacation snapshots onto a wall dotted with
blank wax tiles and gilded frames ready
to “receive” memories, this group presents a
network of object-containers meant to trigger
viewers’ memories. Any object, it seems, can
serve as a container for an entirely different set of
memories or associations. But why do this? This
group surmises that the past is forever gone,
yet human consciousness projects its experiences
of the past, its memories, onto objects in the
world, and thereby these things become “home.”
Similar insights about temporality and experience
are illuminated by the project of printmakers
Sara Downing, Stephanie Hunder, and Elizabeth
Sunita Jacobson. This group devised a method of
working independently to coauthor a set of large
prints that are palimpsests. Each artist worked
alone printing images, then left the prints for the
next artist to pick up, consider, and respond to.
Each session of printing yielded a visual message
of sorts sent forward to the future.
By turning the creative process into a series
of relays played out across time, this team’s
process reveals one of our most repressed
phenomenological senses, consciousness of the
temporal axis. So caught up are we in the present
moment, we forget the uncanny truth that every
image we make, every text we write, functions as a
message from the past sent to the future.
Time is not linear. The installation by Linda Rossi
and Alec Soth maps points of intersection in the
paths of these artists’ lives over the course of
twenty years—first as teacher and student, then
as professionals working in their field. We tend to
conceptualize history as an arrow; our individual
trajectories progress along its line forward in time.
By calling attention to the illusive intersections
of time, space, and human consciousness, Rossi
and Soth’s installation about Carleton College’s
Goodsell Observatory charts points of convergence
that reveal wildly eccentric trajectories that
crisscross in uncanny ways and make it
impossible to conceptualize time as a forward
linear movement. In this installation, we see
that time is not a line, but rather a cluster
of fragmentary events that mingle and flow in
CULTURES CROSSINGS | Whereas much contemporary art concerning identity and
ethnicity — African American art, Latino art, lesbian art, etc. is devoted to the
differences between cultural groups or within specific ethnic traditions, Italian
American artist Laura E. Migliorino worked with Japanese sisters Yumi and Mayu
Nagaoka on a photography project that explores the unlikely intersection of Italian
and Japanese heritage in Madame Butterfly, an opera about a Japanese woman
written at the turn of the twentieth century by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.
Similarly, Priscilla Briggs and Hmong artist
Blong Lor spent months photographing the
rich environments of local Hmong markets. For
their installation they created a grid of images
that “emphasizes a merging of Hmong and
American culture.” These projects demonstrate
that when artists work collaboratively, cultural
difference often serves to structure intersections
and convergences rather than separation
The idea that identity is shaped at the juncture of
the individual and community, at the intersection
of interior voice and the exterior voice, is the
subject of the video installation by GraceMarie
Keaton and Katherine Turczan about the
awkwardness of adolescence. A boy is shown
practicing the task of tying a knot, one of the
skills encouraged by Boys Scouts survival
guides to ready boys for their masculine roles
in the world. He recites a poem as he works,
reminding us of the inner voice of adolescence,
which is often both vulnerable and cocky at this
stage of ego development. Far from autonomous,
subjectivity is represented here as a receptive
field that is responsive to a range of exterior
voices and pressures.
It is fitting to conclude this essay that pits
collaboration, intersections, and multiplicity
against singularity and autonomy by turning to
Virginia Woolf, whose 1931 novel The Waves is
the source of inspiration for Isa Gagarin and
Karen Wirth’s installation. Considered Woolf’s
most experimental book, The Waves presents
an abstracted voice that does not correlate with
the “autonomous subject” and aims instead to
simulate human consciousness unfolding within
a buzz of undirected perception. The reader is not
offered a point of view or singular perspective(s),
but rather is presented with constantly shifting
points of view that intersect and meld one
Narrating multiple streams of consciousness
rather than a plot, Woolf offers the reader no
“I” to attach to in the text. Inspired by Woolf’s
example, Gagarin and Wirth present moving video
footage, written text, sounds, and pictures as
a web of crossing perceptual waves intended to
unmoor the viewer’s rootedness in their sense
of the “I,” their perception of themselves as
separate and autonomous in the world.
Patricia Briggs is director and curator of the galleries
at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Her writing
appears in Artforum and many other print and online
journals. She writes the blog Scene Unseen: Viewing
Notes about visual arts in her community.
MN Butterfly Series, inkjet on paper, installation dimensions variable (grid of 12 images, each 16" x 10"), 2011.
Shooting the project.
MN Butterfly is a series of photographs illustrating
the metamorphosis of a traditional Japanese woman
into a young man.
Inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly and
the play M Butterfly, the project explores the
Japanese response to an opera written by an
Italian where the person lacking a moral
conscience is American.
The collaborating artists are Japanese and Italian
American. The fluid gender identity in the play M
Butterfly adds another layer to the project and
reflects the experience of a generation that is
more comfortable with nuanced gender roles.
The relationship between student and teacher
is one of the most intimate and profound
relationships between two people. From
Socrates to the film Dead Poets Society, the
bond has been analyzed and romanticized. It
can be a beacon of hope for a young person
who is seeking direction. When the balance
between teacher and student shifts, however,
challenges arise for both people and require
special navigational skill.
Laura collaborated with two former students,
sisters Yumi and Mayu. We began our project by
discussing topics of interest to us. We were drawn
to Madame Butterfly because the opera concerns
Japanese culture but was written by an Italian and
addresses women’s issues. We are all interested
in issues regarding gender norms and identity.
Laura suggested we merge the two subjects, and
we then explored the M Butterfly story.
Laura’s challenge was to step back and not steer
the project. Yumi and Mayu did a lot of checking in,
and Laura tossed control back to them. Eventually
we settled into our roles but remained aware of
how easily Laura could dominate the team. During
our shoots Laura would work and then step away,
encouraging Yumi and Mayu to take risks and
FAR LEFT Linda Rossi, Optic Nerve (poster representing Goodsell Observatory installation) with details, inkjet print, 24" x 18", 2006. LEFT Linda Rossi, The Moon and the Sea of
Crisis, inkjet print, 24" x 18", 2006. TOP CENTER Linda Rossi, Camouflage, transparency on Plexiglas, 8" x 10", 2006. BOTTOM CENTER Linda Rossi, Luminos, transparency
on Plexiglas, 8" x 10", 2006. RIGHT Alec Soth, Fly and Comet, color coupler print, 16" x 20", 2001. FAR RIGHT Alec Soth, Observatory, color coupler print, 16" x 20", 2001.
LEFT Linda Rossi, Luminos, transparency on Plexiglas, 8" x 10", 2006. RIGHT Linda Rossi, Camouflage, transparency on
Plexiglas, 8" x 10", 2006.
LEFT Alec Soth, Fly and Comet, color coupler print, 16" x 20", 2001. RIGHT Alec Soth, Observatory, color coupler print, 16" x 20", 2001.
We met in Linda’s Introductory through Advanced
Photography class twenty years ago. Linda still
remembers Alec’s images, which quietly asked
the viewer to reflect on the specific detail within
a larger ambiguous space, often resulting in an
unexpectedly rich experience.
Today, we both engage with photography as
a journey, teetering with our cameras between
control and wondrous discovery. This method of
walking the edge between the known and unknown
becomes a “field guide” for both teaching and
Carleton College’s Goodsell Observatory, dedicated
over a hundred years ago to the quest for celestial
knowledge, provides a fertile meeting ground for
our parallel visions.
The Observatory is less a conventional collaboration than
a conversation across time.
Alec visited the Goodsell Observatory at Carleton
College in 2001 for the project Vantage Points. He
used the frame of the window to articulate the
relationships between inside and outside and
between constructed and natural environments.
“I don’t know a lot about life at Carleton. I’m a
tourist. Maybe that makes the beauty more
apparent. From my first day on campus, I
found a distinct and consistent beauty. This
beauty has something to do with the mix
of rural serenity and intense scholarship.”
Linda created the installation Optic Nerve in
Goodsell in 2006, an intervention into the space
that dramatized artifacts and intensified the
sense of history. “In the illuminated display case
surrounding the base of the large telescope, I
replaced the old glass plate images of stars and
galaxies (see an example in Alec’s photograph Fly
and Comet) with my own pictures, printed on glass,
of science experiments and objects.” Visitors pass
through the lobby to the window-lined room
above (Alec’s photograph Observatory), where
the reflecting telescope reaches for the stars and
The Moon and the Sea of Crisis was shot.
In 2011 we talked about the provocative
intersection of our work within Goodsell
Observatory and read Rebecca Solnit’s A Field
Guide to Getting Lost. We selected particular
images (Rossi’s Luminos and Soth’s Fly and
Comet) based on Solnit’s concept of the Blue
of Distance. Blue Distance is both optical and
emotional; blue defines the edge of vision and
embodies the longing for a distance we never
Re-collections (full view), handmade, found, and altered objects on the wall overlaid with
projections of photos from personal archives, variable dimensions, 2011. Photo credit:
Alex Johnson, Alex Johnson Photography, alexjohnsonphoto.com.
LEFT TO RIGHT Re-collections (details), handmade, found, and altered objects on the wall overlaid with
projections of photos from personal archives, variable dimensions, 2011. Photo credit: Alex Johnson,
Alex Johnson Photography, alexjohnsonphoto.com.
Re-collections (group image), handmade, found, and altered objects on the wall overlaid with projections of photos from
personal archives, variable dimensions, 2011. Photo credit: Alex Johnson, Alex Johnson Photography, alexjohnsonphoto.com.
Re-collections considers the idea of the souvenir, or any
object used to store and express memory or personalized
experience. These items are not the commodified kind,
nor do they belong in the sentimental realm of kitsch.
Rather, Re-collections is meant to investigate a kind of
cultural geography through the use of the souvenir.
These objects explore the souvenir as a means of
materializing experience and engage a dialogue
between “the miniature and the gigantic.”
Re-collections is an installation in which projections
of photographs excavated from both personal and
imaginary archives depict an idealized vision of
utopian landscapes. Wax tiles and house forms,
gilded picture frame shrines, and small paintings
on the interiors of discarded lids dot this
landscape of projected slide imagery. “The
souvenir may be seen as emblematic of the
nostalgia that all narrative reveals—the longing
for its place of origin.”*
*Quotations from Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection
(Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993).
How do we cultivate a true collaboration where there is no understood
or assumed hierarchy? What occurs in the process when we test our
assumptions, work outside our comfort zone, and make ourselves
vulnerable? In our case, the collaboration itself defined the outcome.
For us, this process was more about the
opportunity to explore what evolved as we
stepped back and relinquished control, thus
creating the space for a shared conceptual and
During our first meeting we drew a diagram that
identified ideas of remembering, collecting,
landscape, and the seductiveness found in the
sparse or the bleak as points of intersection.
From this, we developed a working sentence,
which would become the springboard for our ideas:
exploring the souvenir as a means of materializing
experience. In our attempt to achieve a genuine
collaboration, we have discovered the value in
the act of letting go. Our shared authorship has
provided us with a framework for determining
what to keep and what to discard.
Our formal and conceptual process is documented in our blog: materializations.tumblr.com
LEFT Untitled, graphite and white pencil on paper, 30" x 22", 2011. CENTER & RIGHT Untitled (details),
graphite and white pencil on paper, 2011. Photo credit: Jerry Mathiason.
LEFT Alyssa Baguss, 7, 8, 9, graphite on paper, 6.5" x 6", 2011. CENTER Alyssa Baguss, Bulb, graphite
on paper, 6" x 4.5", 2011. RIGHT Alyssa Baguss, Forward Slash?, graphite on paper, 11" x 18", 2011.
Photo credit: Jerry Mathiason.
LEFT Lynda Monick-Isenberg, Indigo Resistor, graphite on paper, 6.5" x 5.5", 2011. CENTER Lynda Monick-Isenberg, Cable
Twist, graphite on paper, 6.5" x 5", 2011. RIGHT Lynda Monick-Isenberg, Electrical Resistor, graphite on paper, 5.5" x 7.5",
2011. Photo credit: Jerry Mathiason.
Our work focuses on the process and intuition of drawing.
We both draw with precision, intention, and curiosity,
systematically drawing three dimensions as illusion on a
two-dimensional plane, investigating insignificant items
that have lost their value to society, recalling their
Research is at the core of both of our individual
practices. Questions drive dedication to the
work. Through our collaborative process forgoing
authorship, our work moves into the world of the
uncertain, precarious, and unpredictable with
personally delightful and indeterminate results.
This process—akin to automatic drawing—allows
the work to move from precise, representational
forms to suggestions of unexpected abstract
ideas. Content is expressed unconsciously by the
unplanned, but suggestive, placement of images.
Meaning develops as diverse concepts are freed
from our rational control.
Join the discussion at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our collaboration began by creating paired lists of shared values.
From there we designed a project, trusting that it would develop
intuitively and that we would gain individually from the collaboration.
Questions about the partnered relationship—how and what we would
learn from this relationship—were at the core of the collaboration. A
sense of joined authorship was intriguing.
We decided to collaborate on a drawing. The
drawing traveled between us every two weeks.
As it changed hands, we uploaded questions,
research, and reactions to our Drawing-as-
Language Google group to record our process.
When we met to exchange the work, we discussed
our weekly experience, reflecting on product,
process, and partnership, and examined perceived
problems and next steps. These conversations
led to a rich discourse about contemporary arts’
relationship to religion, science, and technology;
drawing process and intention; and teaching,
parenting, partnership, animals, food, kindness,
trust, and time.
In addition to the “traveling” drawing, we worked
on small, individual “practice” drawings using
shared subject matter. These elicited surprise,
beauty, fear, and worry, but overall they created
excitement and allowed each of us to explore new
ways of working as we drew from one another’s
expertise, ideas, knowledge, and experience.
LEFT Kim Benson, Coming Spring, oil on canvas, 36" x 36", 2011. CENTER Kim Benson,The Three Wise Triptych
(1 of 3), oil on panel, 23" x 21", 2011. RIGHT Kim Benson, untitled, oil on panel, 25" x 25", 2011.
LEFT Val Jenkins, Harbinger 1, digital print on rag paper, 45" x 24", 2011. CENTER Val Jenkins, Harbinger 2,
digital print on rag paper, 24" x 49", 2011. RIGHT Val Jenkins, Harbinger 3, digital print on rag paper,
38" x 24", 2011.
Kim’s recent paintings inspired Val to revisit a previous body of
work. We drew intersections between our artistic practices based on
our desire to respond to issues of war, human suffering, and the
body in pain.
Kim explores the dichotomy between beauty,
inherent in the seductive qualities of oil paint,
and violence, endemic to human nature. The
transformative power of life found in the cycle
of death, rebirth, and regeneration informs her
painting process and subject matter.
Val’s images were culled from the mass media
from 2001 to 2003. In her drawings, subjects of
physical abuse and torture take on a new presence
as fluid forms—thick pools of ink—settle
according to the physical/geographic conditions
that surround them. Ridges within the figures
and tonal values, for example, are created entirely
based on the rate of drying time, the angle of the
table, and the vibrations in the room. Enlarged
into abstractions, they become monstrous yet
banal—rooted in the familiar gestures of the
human body while implying something unfamiliar,
mysterious, or ominous.
As artists we desire to place our work in the
service of posing questions about the expressive
capability of art, the cultural value of a studio
practice, and the need to transform despair,
loss, and suffering into physical forms with
What brought us together was a shared belief in a studio practice that
is based on an ongoing engagement with the world. This engagement
manifests itself as part of a daily regimen; it is as much a part of our
lives as eating.
We are also committed to a creative practice
that is cultivated with great attentiveness, free
from the demands we place on our social and
professional lives, and that relies upon a rigorous
interplay between autonomy and mutuality.
Respond is a salient word that characterizes both
of our processes; we respond to the intrinsic
qualities of the media with which we work and to
the conditions in society that induce us to create.
We do not make work to illustrate ideas or develop
narratives; rather, we are both interested in how
our work embodies meaning, incites reflection,
and situates the viewer in a liminal space that
embraces uncertainty as a precondition to growth
and new experience.
Our intersection was structured around the
dialogue we had while present in each other’s
studios: meaningful and lasting conversations
about making art and living life.
Slag and Bloom, serigraph and collage on panel, 57" x 128" (each panel 57" x 24"), 2011.
Ours is a collaboration of printmakers. In this medium, much of the
content is created by the doing: how carving a line changes it, how
layering affects subject matter, how transparency or opacity of ink
creates a metaphor.
Each artist brought her own interests in the form
of images to share and combine with others. In
the fusion, themes begin to develop. The work
is necessarily about process, about the coming
together of different forms and the clashes and
unexpected harmonies that occur.
Sara's images address her spine—the surgeries,
pain, and disabilities following an injury. Elements
stack up, float in graceful columns, or are shattered
and screwed together with hardware.
birth, growth, and aging find form in a scatter of
leaves, the curl of an embryo, or a folding of wings.
Elizabeth explores concepts ranging from
horoscopes to laws of physics as metaphors
for personal concerns. Her current work often
requires the viewer to interact with the print or
manipulate some part. The body, time, structure,
and decay emerge as themes of our collaboration.
Stephanie’s recent work examines the ambiguities
of life through natural allegories. Questions about
We met together several times to talk about
ideas and what kind of pieces we wanted
to make. However, maybe because we are
printmakers and used to working out ideas
during the creation of the work, the discussions
seemed vague and unresolved. Eventually we
decided to quit talking and start printing—only
then did interesting things start happening.
At the beginning of the project, Stephanie felt it
was easy for her to dominate the group and set
the direction. Though she worried a little about
that, she soon lost sway over the others. In the
end, the three of us seemed like equal—yet very
different—partners. We had hoped we would
meet together for studio sessions, but that turned
out to be impractical, and instead we often printed
alone, responding to what had been left behind
by the last artist.
When Stephanie worked in this style before (for a
project called Semographics), it was with a larger
team, a crew of assistants, and a structured
schedule. The printing proceeded rapidly amid
lively conversation, building many layers and
dense imagery. This time the process was much
quieter, slower, and thoughtful, and the images
Hmong Village, St. Paul, archival pigment prints, 40" x 78" (grid of 12 images, each image 12" x 18"), 2011.
As the economy struggles to regain momentum,
people are reconsidering priorities and values.
Last year, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
mounted an exhibition titled Embarrassment
of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth. The didactic
from the exhibition stated, “The question this
exhibition seeks to explore is: How have
photographers pictured and examined the
new economy? This leads to other provocative
questions for audiences to consider, such
as, what does wealth look like in different
cultural situations and, more generally, in our age?”
Embarrassment of Riches is one example of the
current dialogue in the arts surrounding the
global economy as it relates to culture. We add
to this dialogue by looking at the opposite end of
the economic spectrum, at what immigrants (who
leave one country for another with little more
than their values and sense of identity) and their
children consider to be precious.
In Hmong Village, St. Paul, we focus on objects in
the marketplace as artifacts or embodiments of
culture that symbolize or reflect ideas about love,
memory, tradition, and identity within Hmong
We began our collaboration with an intention to create a series
of photo and video artworks based on the idea that the things
people value reflect their individual and cultural identities
Initially, we planned to compare and contrast
various ethnic markets in the Twin Cities
as mirrors of cultural values. However, after
beginning to photograph and discuss the images,
we decided to focus specifically on Hmong culture
for two reasons: the Hmong culture in Minnesota
is a large and rich territory; and as a young
Hmong American navigating two cultures, Blong
is in the process of questioning and defining his
Our collaboration revolved around a process of
exchange and integration as a verbal and visual
dialogue. Initially, we photographed on our own at
various Hmong markets in St. Paul. After pooling
our photos to explore our ideas, we decided to
focus on the Hmong Village shopping complex
on Johnson Parkway for this suite of images and
made many trips there together.
LEFT Hannah Geil-Neufeld, Styromoon, ink, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper, 12" x 24", 2011. RIGHT Hannah Geil-Neufeld,
Styromoon (detail), ink, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper, 2011.
LEFT Chris Willcox, As We Left It, ink and acrylic on paper, 30" x 44", 2011. RIGHT Chris Willcox,
As We Left It (detail), ink and acrylic on paper, 2011.
Our work shares a fascination with what has been (and what
surely will be) left behind as a result of human exploration
Chris has studied the artifacts that were left
behind from the British Franklin Arctic Expedition
of 1848, such as rusted tin cans, pocket watches,
boot heels, and grave markers. Relics from
this time litter parts of the frozen wasteland of
Beechey Island in northern Canada. It does not
require a leap of imagination to wonder what
sorts of objects have been left on the moon by our
contemporary explorers, astronauts.
was unlikely to decompose, and so she thought
that her castle was going to last forever. Questions
emerge from this line of thinking, such as, would
such an object travel, and how would it change
over time? What might a Styrofoam artifact look
like covered with organic debris (like mussels
and barnacles) in some future scene? Could her
artifact ever end up on the moon?
Hannah remembers that when she was a child,
she made a castle out of Styrofoam egg cartons
with her father. She was aware that Styrofoam
This past summer, Hannah suggested that Chris read Italo Calvino’s
short story collection Cosmicomics. In particular, the story “The
Distance of the Moon” interested us, as Calvino tells a fantastical
tale about an earlier time when the narrator and his companions
rowed out to sea and climbed up to the moon.
These events occurred near the beginning of
time as humans know it, when the moon orbited
so close to the earth that it scraped against the
earth with each orbit, collecting artifacts from the
land and sea.
The story sparked our discussion about human
exploration of the moon, and we wonder about
the environmental implications of exploration
to other celestial realms. In short, what will we
continue to leave behind as we move forward?
This fantastical story resonated well with
Hannah’s interest in otherworldly scenes and
the possibility of earthly artifacts ending up in
other settings. Chris’s interests in “otherworldly”
earth geographies, like the polar regions, were
the foundation for her image, although she also
imagines it as an abandoned moonscape of
Nothing Staid, single channel video, copier printed bound book, 20" x 30" x 10", 2011.
Photo credit: Rik Sferra.
Nothing Staid, 47-second video loop, Cape of Good Hope / Park Avenue Armory, NY: Ryoji Ikeda, 2011.
Nothing Staid, sequence repeated for 100 pages, 2011. Text from Virginia Woolf, The Waves, 1931.
Based on Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, Nothing Staid articulates
the repetition of life experience. The Waves delves into individual
consciousness over the course of life; it is internal, reflective.
The novel’s structure couples long narrative with
short interruptions full of simile and description.
We followed that rhythm in editing the video,
while in the accompanying book we provide
a continuous, contemplative commentary. The
meditative quality of repetition is a form of
emptying out; nothingness can be meaningful.
The forty-seven-second video loop cycles through
footage that is quiet and repetitive, interrupted
abruptly by patterns. A black book sits just below,
with a hundred pages of sparse white handtraced
text. Repeated lines from The Waves cause
a rhythmic loss of self, while creating a chant-like
poem that is both Woolf’s and the artists’.
Collapsing our personal identities with Woolf’s
writing and the figures in the video is a way to
saturate the “I” referred to in the text with multiple
points of experience. Who is the speaker? Is it the
reader of the text? Where is the “I”? Is it in the
handwritten type, or is it the occasional figure in
The lull of the wave gives way to moments of
sharp recognition. The piece invites immersion
at the same time that it positions the viewer as
The process of developing this project began with expanding
from a central notion of waves and contracting back to a
focused concept. We collected visual and written sources,
accumulating a constellation of interests related to all
Reading Virginia Woolf’s The Waves led to homing
in on forms and ideas in our collection that related
to the text. Similar to the way the novel quietly
advances through the lives of its subjects, our
discussions of our own life stages helped us identify
The novel also formed underlying structures for
Nothing Staid. The first-person voice in The Waves
becomes subjective in Nothing Staid—who is the
“I”? The artist? The reader? Similarly, the cadence
of the novel informed the editing of the video.
Nothing Staid replaces linear narrative with
We developed a collaborative process to cultivate
the vast range of information we accumulated into
a refined, concerted piece. Taking away information
proved to be a more challenging and stimulating
process than the initial activity of collecting.
Learning from each other’s life perspectives and
aesthetics, we developed a project that does not
reflect one individual more than the other, but
bears a quality that is both shared and personal.
Where the Bee Sucks There Suck I, video installation, 3 monitors, looped, 2011.
Where the Bee Sucks There Suck I is a video installation
that allows the audience to observe an adolescent boy as
he recites a poem and ties knots.
Inspired by Boy Scouts’ survival methods, the act
of tying knots references skills gained by physical
practice and mental focus used to master a task.
The poem, made up of coming-of-age poems, is
structured to reflect both the interior and exterior
voices of a young adolescent boy. The poem shows
a developing ego that is cocky and insecure.
The title of the piece is taken from Shakespeare’s
The Tempest. In the play Ariel is an airy spirit who is
imprisoned in a tree by the witch Sycorax. When Ariel
is released, he sings a song to celebrate his freedom:
Where the bee sucks, there suck I.
Our project began as something physical and about the body’s
restraint but morphed into a nonobject and about repeated words
and a young adolescent boy’s internal and external struggles.
We both had previously made work about young girls and were
interested in the differences between the sexes at this place
We struggled with a form for this project until we
came upon Boy Scouts manuals and poems about
adolescence. Then the structure of the piece fell
into place. Katherine has a thirteen-year-old son
with braces. It was evident that he should be used
for the video.
Some notes on the itinerary and geography of our collaboration:
Student Teacher Student Friends Collaborators.
Twenty-five years age difference insignificant.
Minneapolis, United States Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine.
Thirty e-mails two days shooting in Minneapolis together.
New York City Minneapolis via e-mail next three months.
Shared readings shared poems shared writing.
S. Catrin Magnusson, 1", felt, wood, 52" x 48" x 1", 2011.
Stevie Rexroth, untitled from New Forms, photography mounted on Sintra, 50" x 40", 2011.
S. Catrin Magnusson
My work explores in-between areas of physical
and psychological landscapes that move
back and forth between inclusion and
exclusion, connection and disconnection,
the material and immaterial.
I am interested in the concepts of displacement
and impermanence and how they are represented
in geology, namely the boundaries of tectonic
plates where subduction, divergence, or grinding
occurs. The work focuses on the Mid-Atlantic
Ridge, a deep rift whose force pushes North
and South America apart from Europe and
Africa by an inch every year. The rift functions
as a metaphor for the increasing distance
and tension between countries and cultures,
and speaks as well to a personal narrative of
coexisting between two cultures, two ideologies,
and two landscapes.
This work continues an investigation of
the nature of subjecthood in photography
through the use of simple materials
I create small sculptural forms from white
drawing paper and photograph them against
a white background. The sculptural forms
have no direct referent in the world. They are
created purely from a sense of play—cutting,
moving, gluing shapes around. It is organic
and meditative. The outcome of this process
is a quiet, almost nonpresent image, white on
white, sitting somewhere between a two-and
three-dimensional experience. A photographic
image becomes a work on paper, a drawing, and
perhaps returns in a cycle to the early definition
of photography as drawing with light.
We came together as mentor/mentee in the MCAD MFA program.
Although we came to art from different backgrounds, Stevie from
literary theory and Catrin from filmmaking, from the beginning we
had an easy, thoughtful, and engaged relationship.
Researchers at heart, we often bring an artist’s
work, a reading, or magazine tear-out to each
other only to realize that we have been looking/
thinking/exploring similar territories.
We share common aesthetic and stylistic
interests, from midcentury modern architectural
forms and Scandinavian design to topographical
maps. Both of our work investigates repeated
or layered forms, often in a monochromatic
palette, as conversations spin around ideas of
expansion/compaction, space/nonspace, and
A bit stubborn and perhaps private, neither of us
was interested in creating a singular work from
a traditional collaborative process. Yet having
recognized from our initial meeting that our work
seemed to already be in conversation, we wanted
to offer distinct works side by side.
Ironically, out of our many conversations surrounding
the Intersections exhibition, we have begun to plan
for future collaborative making.
Perhaps we have grown out of the mentor/mentee model
that initially brought us together and are ready to explore
how a collaborative investigation can nurture our ongoing
bond and our individual practices. This is where we begin
LEFT Patricia Olson, Self-Portrait at 60 (after Beckmann), oil on board, 55" x 37 ", 2011.
RIGHT Patricia Olson, Roxi Swanson (after Ingres), oil on board, 55" x 37", 2011. Photo
credit: Petronella Ytsma.
LEFT Roxi Swanson, Just Breathe, oil on canvas, 40" x 30", 2011. RIGHT Roxi Swanson,
The Professor, oil on canvas, 60" x 36", 2011. Photo credit: Petronella Ytsma.
As figurative painters, we are drawn to the emotional, expressive
possibilities of the human figure, and in our collaborative
conversation we have extended our dialogue to include other
painters from art history.
We began by studying specific self-portraits,
Patricia choosing Max Beckmann’s Self-Portrait in
Tuxedo, and Roxi choosing Jenny Saville’s Knead.
Roxi was interested in Saville’s mark-making
technique and the sickly quality of the color, while
Patricia was taken with Beckmann’s posture, at
once confident and guarded, and wanted to bring
a feminist update to this very male presentation
precedents from which to work. Roxi looked
to Egon Schiele’s Portrait of the Artist’s Wife
Standing to paint Patricia’s portrait, her interest
being in conveying the innocent quality of the
figure. Patricia selected Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Ingres’s Madame Moitessier, again interested in
translating this nineteenth-century presentation
of femininity into a twenty-first century sensibility.
After painting self-portraits in the manner of
these two artists, we then painted portraits
of one another, again choosing art historical
We find intense connection when painting alone in our studios,
almost like having a dialogue with our subjects, so it was important
to both of us to continue working in this way.
Our collaborative process involved each making
two paintings that referenced other painters
from art history, thereby expanding the nature
of our collaboration. We shared studio visits and
e-mailed images of our progress to each other.
The kind of solitary studio work that is our normal
lot was enriched by the camaraderie that came
from knowing that another artist across town was
struggling with the same problems and responding to
the presences that emerged from the painted surface.
While we sometimes ventured encouragement
and suggestions, our primary feelings were
amazement and pleasure in the other’s work.
LEFT Intersections (text panel), mixed media, 30" x 30", 2011. RIGHT Intersections (full view), mixed media,
132" x 90" (each row 30" x 90"), 2011.
Intersections (row 1), mixed media, 30" x 90", 2011.
Intersections (row 4), mixed media, 30" x 90", 2011.
Intersections is a mixed-media exploration of the rich nature
of the St. Olaf Natural Lands.
Rooted in late-nineteenth-century descriptions,
aerial photographs, writings on landscape, and
biological data, this drawing uses layers to chart
the progression of this particular landscape from
the “Big Woods,” to agriculture, to its current life as
a “demonstration” of Minnesota’s various biomes.
Reaping the reward of looking carefully, we can
read this landscape as a palimpsest that retains
traces of all that has come before and hints of
what might yet be.
The ubiquitous division of the midwestern
landscape into a grid informs the format of the
final piece. Prairie blooms over reclaimed farm
fields that settlers and farmers had earlier carved
out from mature forests.
Learn more about St. Olaf Natural Lands at: stolaf.edu/academics/naturallands
This collaboration began with our joint interest
in the passage of time and its traces on a place.
We chose the St. Olaf Natural Lands as a place
of study and reflection that we could both
experience and research.
We divided the lands into twelve segments
based on historical aerial photographs, and we
each took responsibility for six. Through weekly
check-ins, we took time over several months to
rearrange, revise, refocus, and react to what we
had each accomplished on our assigned sections.
True collaboration, in contrast to parallel work,
began when all base drawings were done and
decisions needed to be made about the piece
as a whole.
The process was truly one of intersections: between
student and teacher, nature and human intervention,
memory and time, and process and product.
Alexis Kuhr, untitled, acrylic, graphite on panel, 6' x 6' x 2", 2011.
Photo credit: Patrick Kelley Worldwide Photography.
Stephanie Thompson, Crossing, acrylic on panel, 6' x 6' x 2", 2011.
Photo credit: Patrick Kelley Worldwide Photography.
In a series of large-scale, mixed-media works
on canvas, I explore the possibilities of mark,
space, and surface.
Beginning with the basic elements of introductory
perspective, I intuitively realign planes, arriving at
spaces that both advance and retreat to produce
a realm of disquieting spatial ambiguity.
Through my process I produce new structures
that create visual interest through slight
visual disruptions that emerge out of irregular
geometries. The overall impact is one of
contemplative, measured activity.
Influenced by a recent investigation into my
family’s ancestry, I create acrylic paintings
that explore my ability to establish a
genuine relationship with the past.
By carefully selecting shapes derived from
historical photographs, I create structures that
hover between existence and intangibility.
A neutralized color palette combined with planned
gestural mark-making contributes to a fleeting
sense of time and place.
At the core of our collaborative project is the use of painting as a vehicle
to present layered ideas, emotions, and sensations that can be read and
known simultaneously. While the “how” of this communication remains to
be discovered, we believe it to be informed by the experience of the body in
movement and through cultural memory.
We have worked together since 2007 in various
roles, first as student and teacher, and now in
arts administration. It has grown clearer over
time that although our interests, temperaments,
and working styles align, we adopt divergent
formal languages to explore the broader category
of geometric abstraction.
While we employ similar visual structures and
vocabularies, we use these basic elements to
create work with very different personal meaning.
that is influenced by childhood experience of
the landscape, our unique psychologies, and
The paintings created during this collaboration
hung side-by-side in process in the studio
and inspired, challenged, and enhanced our
independent work. This opportunity proved so
helpful to the development of our thinking that
we continued working, allowing the paintings to
evolve and change, until the exhibition opening.
For each of us, abstraction encapsulates a
relationship with color, form, scale, and pacing
PARTICIPANTS / ARTIST TEAMS
COLLEGE OF VISUAL ARTS
St. Paul, Minnesota | cva.edu
St. Paul, Minnesota | macalester.edu
ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY
St. Paul, Minnesota | stkate.edu
Coon Rapids, Minnesota | anokaramsey.edu
Laura E. Migliorino
Former Division Coordinator, Fine Arts
Class of 2007
Class of 2013
Former Chair, Art and Art History
Class of 2006, 2009
Class of 2007, 2010
Northfield, Minnesota | carleton.edu
Chair, Art and Art History
COLLEGE OF ST. BENEDICT/
ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY
St. Joseph/Collegeville, Minnesota | csbsju.edu
Class of 2011
Class of 2009
Class of 2008
Chair, Studio Art
Class of 2008
Chair, Fine Arts
Chair, Foundation Studies
St. Paul, Minnesota | csp.edu
Class of 2012
Chair, Art Department
Elizabeth Sunita Jacobson
Class of 2007
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS COLLEGE
St. Peter, Minnesota | gustavus.edu
Chair, Art and Art History
Class of 2012
Chair, Art and Art History
OF ART AND DESIGN
Minneapolis, Minnesota | mcad.edu
Class of 2008
Class of 2013
S. Catrin Magnusson
Class of 2009
Chair, Media Arts
Former Chair, Media Arts
Interim Vice President, Academic Affairs
Former Chair, Fine Arts
Class of 2010
ST. OLAF COLLEGE
Northfield, Minnesota | stolaf.edu
Former Chair, Art and Art History
Class of 2013
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Twin Cities Campus | umn.edu
Chair, Art Department
Class of 2008
MINNEAPOLIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design educates individuals
to be professional artists and designers, pioneering thinkers,
creative leaders, and engaged global citizens.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Bruce Bean, Chair
Mary Lazarus, Vice Chair
Monica Little, ’78
Clinton H. Morrison
D. Robert Teslow II
Bill Thorburn, ’84
Cy DeCosse, ’52
TRUSTEES BY VIRTUE
Jay Coogan, President
Janet Groenert, ’79, President,
Alumni Association Board
Intersections is made possible through the generous support of the
Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and Larkin Hoffman, with
additional funding from Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Carleton
College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and St. Olaf College.
All images used courtesy of the artists unless otherwise noted.
Catalog design by Nicole Summers, PSB ’10, MCAD DesignWorks.
Copyediting by Mary Keirstead.
2501 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404