Winds of Inspiration, Winds of Change

 



 

Combined Check List/Artist Statements for the exhibition

 

Barbara Thill Anderson
Gallery Director and Professor of Art, Emeritus
Concordia College-Moorhead
Windward Journey, 2009
Mixed media assemblage, oil paint
96 x 42 inches
 
Generally, my medium is oil paint on canvas, but since the theme for this exhibition is renewal the idea of using recycled materials for this piece appealed to me. The base for the painting is an old bulletin board of the sort that hung above a classroom blackboard. Enough primer allowed the cork surface to take paint. The windmill vanes are made up of a frame containing rug making webbing, a wing sewn from canvas and inserted with flexible wire, an imitation leaf from the now defunct World Market, and paint stir sticks.
 
In my mind was the idea of the old farm windmill that pumped water, the Dutch windmill vane, and those pieces from nature that catch the wind allowing flight or wind-cooling. Progress is often just a matter of simplifying our needs and the ways of attaining those needs.
 
 
Pam Bidelman
Painter
les totems dans le soleil, 2009
Oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches
 
Roaming through southern Minnesota has become an otherworldly experience with tall spires of white looming over the rolling green and ochre fields. The hypnotic movement of hundreds of elegant blades in slow rotation with the force of invisible wind announces the possibility for profound change to the human ethic of living on fragile earth. Dare we imagine causing less harm to ourselves and to the other sojourners on this globe?
 
I would like for my painting to be experienced as a wish that we might as a species share a new totem. In the wind turbines I see a totem image that emerges from history in a new incarnation representing a shared philosophical, spiritual, and political commitment to the well being of all life for all time.
 
 
David Boggs
Professor of Art
Concordia College-Moorhead
Abandoned Roadway at the Dawn of a New Age, 2009
Watercolor on paper
13 _ x 27 inches
 
In much seventeenth-century Dutch (and other) landscape tradition, paintings show a somber or threatening tempestuousness of nature marked by rays of hope, by promises of enlightenment or salvation. In this painting, I submit that in our age, energy salvation will come by way of the enlightened breath of the wind. In the painting, the fossil and nuclear fuel-based energy production on the left befouls the sky, darkening and dirtying the cloud base. It gives way to the brilliant light of dawn against the receding empty roadway at painting center, which separates the grime at the left from the glistening wind turbines and the cleaner sky at right. The road devoid of travelers suggests that fossil fuels are either in short supply or are exhausted, while the gentle giants of Zephyrus touched by crepuscular rays that extend from breaks in the clouds, are clearly indicated as anointed life-givers of the new age.
 
Given that the topography of far west central Minnesota (my home is Moorhead, on the western boundary of the state) is much like that of the Netherlands, it is perhaps natural that I drew upon Dutch landscape tradition in order to develop a painting that speaks of humankind's place in the world relative to nature. While the themes of this work are renewal and emergence, the scene depicted is largely sky. I show the landscape as the totality and grandeur of nature, with the heavens dominating all, and human evidence (roadways and other structures) as but scratches on the surface of the earth. This painting was created specifically for this exhibition; the idea of "Winds of Change" leading me to consider Thomas Kuhn's (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) assertion that "once we understand nature's transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to be feared or subdued."
 
 
Priscilla Briggs
Associate Professor of Art
Gustavus Adolphus College
Untitled, 2009
Video
 
The wind turbine is a beautiful sculptural object. It is massive and monolithic in the modern landscape and imagination. Its presence in the middle of an idyllic cow pasture can be disconcerting, but it also offers hope for the future. This video approaches the subject from both directions, with no attempt at reconciliation.
 
 
Daniel Bruggeman
Senior Lecturer in Art, Drawing Instructor
Carleton College
Compensation for a Permanent Loss # 7, 2008
Gouache on Paper
24 x 24 inches
 
The history of the settlement of North America has been the impetus for most of my work the past twenty years. Like most compelling stories, this one is rich in encounters with exotic cultures, mysterious landscapes and disharmony. The transformation of the landscape from wilderness to domesticated environment is the primary legacy of the North American narrative. The displacement of indigenous life in favor of cities, agriculture, mining and logging was considered an essential component to a growing new country, but the consequences have been costly. The loss of native habitat has devastated many species of plants and animals.
 
Recent paintings from the series, "Compensation for a Permanent Loss," focus on the disappearance and fabricated re-introduction of extinct native elements of the prairie. The scenes suggest that if a species once as abundant as the Passenger Pigeon (with a population estimated to have been in the billions on the North American continent) could disappear, what else might be at risk? In the painting for this exhibit, Compensation for a Permanent Loss #7, I considered the unlikely disappearance of the wind and its surrogate replacement of electrical fans.
 
The coexistence of discordant feelings is reminiscent of a vignette from Melville's Moby Dick, a story in which the character Ahab is asked about the pain in his non-existent leg:
Yes, I have heard something curious on that score, sir; how a dismasted man never entirely loses the feeling of his old spar, but it will still be pricking him at times. May I humbly ask if it really be so sir?
Like the lingering sensation of Ahab's severed leg, there is a kind of irrational hope that is represented by pain when one considers the permanence of extinction. Like a prosthetic device, these paintings are a reminder of the unsatisfactory substitutes that we are left with when we lose something from our environment.
 
 
William S. Bukowski
Professor of Art
Bethany Lutheran College
Minnesota Landscape in Three Views, 2009
Oil on linen canvas (triptych)
24 x 54 inches
 
As an artist I prefer to work directly from life. My current paintings use garden imagery, so the theme of man manipulating nature interests me. I looked at the wind turbine subject with some curiosity because I don't see them on a daily basis. After looking at my options to find wind turbines in Minnesota, I settled on the Butterfield area. The site really looked to me like a 1950s era science fiction movie set. I also thought of Pop art and an artist like Claes Oldenburg making lawn ornaments for a giant.
 
I liked the idea of connecting three slightly different views of the same landscape. One view didn't seem like enough. I wanted to create an integration of traditional landscape with non-traditional energy source. It will become commonplace.
 
 
Becky Carmody
Carnegie Art Center Gallery Coordinator-Mankato
Zephyr Goddess, 2009
Linoleum block print on paper
6 _ x 9 inches
 
I make linoleum block prints, which is a type of relief print. I am drawn to the simplicity of black and white prints and the unique quality of line that is characteristic of this technique. I have learned to accept the inherent imperfections and even have learned to love the spontaneous, happy accidents that happen when carving into a piece of linoleum. I am also a very low-tech kind of person so instead of using a printing press, I hand-rub my prints using an old porcelain doorknob.
 
While the environment benignity of wind power promises great potential for clean, alternative energy, intrusions on the visual landscape seem to be the primary opposition in communities. As landscape architects and communities continue to struggle to balance sustainable technology with visual aesthetics and community impact, I chose to represent the positive aspects of wind power using a female mother earth metaphor incorporating visual symmetry, graceful movement and the sustainability of life.
 
 
Carol Lee Chase
Assistant Professor
St. Catherine University
Spinning, 1999
Super 8 black and white film (with sound track by Guy Klucevsek)
 
When I lived in the Bay Area in California, the high point of going to the Central Valley was Altamont Pass near Livermore. Rows and rows of wind turbines flapped and spun in the breeze -- often brisk in the canyon. They were mesmerizing.
 
It was the movement of these wind "creatures" that was so visually appealing to me and that is why I have submitted a film piece for this exhibition.
 
Shot on Super 8 film (hand held), I was fascinated with the wind turbine on the roof of my studio in Oakland. By moving the camera in sync with the spin of the turbine, I was able to portray more than a static shot. Through the eye of the lens, I was able to distort and change the fluidity of the movement and create a visual study of my own.
 
 
Jason Elliott Clark
Assistant Professor of Art
Bemidji State University
The Source of Wind, 2009
Relief and monotype on paper
22 x 30 inches
 
The thunderbirds are supernatural creatures that were created to care for the health and well being of the earth. The belief is that these birds cause the lightning by the flashings of their eyes and the thunderbolts are flaming arrows shot down to regenerate the forests and grasslands, to keep the earth fertile and fruitful. The wind and noise of thunder are produced by the flapping of the wings as the thunderbird is flying. This cleanses the earth and brings rain to quench the thirst of the earth when it needs refreshing.
 
I see the wind turbines that are being erected over the landscape as feathers of the thunderbirds that have fallen as the bird flaps its wings. These feathers are standing upright ready to catch the wind that they once created. These feathers still hold the calling of the bird that they fell from; they were created for the health and well being of the earth.
 
 
Kelly Connole
Assistant Professor of Art
Carleton College
Reliable, 2009
Clay and copper
20 x 15 x 7 inches
 
In approaching the theme of this exhibition, my thoughts began with the movement of wind and the ways in which this movement can become visible. While wind can be seen in the patterns of sand, the fluttering of tall grasses, and the rotating blades of windmills, weather vanes have been used for centuries, throughout the world, as a way to assess the action of wind. This work explores the link between traditional tools of measurement and the harnessing of wind power through the use of windmills.
 
The golden retriever, a family dog, is an all-American symbol of reliability in domestic life and an appropriate image to adorn this modern take on the weather vane/windmill. The title of this piece, Reliable, references not only the retriever, but also the contemporary idea that wind is a constant source of renewable energy. Traditional windmills provided farmers self-sufficiency as a way to pump water for livestock and crops. Perhaps contemporary turbines will provide a similar self-sufficiency in their ability to generate reliable power.
 
 
Michael Eble
Associate Professor of Art and Curator of the Humanities Fine Arts Gallery
University of Minnesota-Morris
Oklahoma Windmills, 2005
Oil on canvas
18 x 36 inches
 
The painting titled Oklahoma Windmills, is based off the following Jack Kerouac haiku poem:
 

The Windmills of

Oklahoma look

In Every Direction

 
Oklahoma Windmills is part of a series of paintings that I produced in 2005 titled "Beats of Haiga" that are responses to the haiku poems of the American beat poet Jack Kerouac. A central emphasis of these paintings is the process in which I reference the Japanese art of Haiga. HAI comes from haiku, previously known in Japan as haikai or hokku, three-line poems of five, then seven, then five syllables, respectively. GA is the word for painting, so Haiga literally means haiku-paintings.
 
Through the combination of haiga and the haiku poems of Kerouac, I have been compelled to produce this work. As an artist I see this as an inventive approach to my creative research, where paintings are built upon concepts of text until a resolution is found within a piece. It is a process of forming a relationship with the written word that is compelling and interesting. My main goal for this work is to capture the simplicity and airiness of haiku, since this is the major goal of haiga. I also hope to make people more aware of the mature beauty that can be obtained from these writings and visual images.
 
 
Gary Erickson
Visiting Assistant Professor
Macalester College
Gingkos and Swirls, 2009
White earthenware, underglaze decals, glaze
18 x 18 x 1 inches
 
My sculptural work represents my travels to Cuba and China and experiencing cultural rhythms of life. Extended immersion in different cultures offers new sounds, smells, tastes, sights and textures, expanding my perspective on the world. A common denominator between home and being abroad remains my interest in forms from nature and their growth systems. I have interpreted these experiences into sculptural forms and large architectural tiles, embedded with symbolism, reflection of place and natures influence on art. Using the language of both abstract and narrative sculptural forms, each piece is a whimsical, energetic, animated, rhythmic, colorful and focused study of life.
 
 
Jill Ewald
Director, Flaten Art Museum
St. Olaf College
Then and Here (Oh Wind), 2008-2009
Oil on canvas (diptych)
50 x 50 inches
 
My interest in windmills lies in the connections we experience with wind on the land and sea, and with the energy derived from windmills. Diagonal lines across the painting refer to the blades of the windmill. Wind blows and swirls on land and water. The chaos of the piece is broken by a vertical calm, that stasis when there is too much or too little wind, or when there is an overabundance of energy produced in a particular place.
 
The spheres, a compositional form that has occupied my attention for many years, in this piece discuss the wind, and the capture, storage, and distribution of its energy. My intent is that compositionally the spheres are more observed into the atmosphere of the work than appearing to sit on top of the picture plane. Further, the surface markings and abstract shapes and forms are ambiguous in meaning, allowing the viewer to construct personal associations and narratives.
 
 
Judith Forster-Monson
American Gothic Revisited, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
22 x 18 inches
 
As a committed environmentalist, I have long been interested in the numerous inventive ideas for saving Mother Earth. Each wind turbine that is noticeable on the landscape, in particular on the Minnesota horizon, is cause for celebration. My choice of artwork for this exhibit required incorporating some sort of humor into the creative process to help with the gravity of the currant global situation. Grant Wood's well-known 1930s American Gothic seemed a fitting place to begin.
I was born in Springfield, Minnesota, in 1942, am married (Domestic Engineer as a career), the mother of five, Nana to nine grandchildren and four granddogs. Being raised in a family where creative expression was encouraged meant that my childhood love of art, along with the specific talents of my four sisters, was honored. As I matured, my interests included music, theater, writing, and the decorative arts. Coming into painting in my late forties, I initially focused on watercolor, turning soon to whimsical acrylic paintings and papier-mâché sculptures encompassing the broad spectrum of satirical interactions people have with each other and with their pets. Having tried many differing painting styles in acrylic, I am now currently working towards the goal of creating house and business portraits.
 
 
Brian Frink
Professor of Art
Minnesota State University-Mankato
A New Landscape, 2009
Collage/mixed media
41 x 24 inches
 
A couple of months ago my wife and I were driving though southern Minnesota. We came upon a "wind farm." Four of the wind turbines lined up with each other causing a rhythmic dance of their blades. It was a delightful image. This was part of my inspiration for this work.
 
My work titled A New Landscape refers to the startling presence of the wind turbine on the American landscape. I have chosen to work using the technique of collage. I see the modern wind turbine as a kind of technological collage. Huge, sleek moving forms bisecting and collaged upon our rural landscape.
 
The particular shapes I have used in my composition make reference to the overlays of technology and industry on our land and in our imaginations. Other forms and marks represent such natural elements and forces such as rain, wind and earth. There are also marks that are causal "non-drawing" marks. Tears and cuts in the paper or smudges of dirt, random doodling becomes part of my drawing process. I see these kinds of alterations in the paper as similar to natural forces such as erosion and gravity. I am attempting to create metaphorical links between my process of drawing and the image of the wind turbine within the American imagination.
 
The act of making a drawing (or art in general) is an action that is full of optimism and hope. I also see this as a parallel to the wind turbine. Their presence represents a hopeful future.
 
John Gaunt
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
 
 
Ruthann Godollei
Professor of Art
Macalester College
Doña Quijote de la Academia, 2006
Monoprint on paper
22 x 30 inches
 
My work continues a series of prints in the long tradition of social commentary in the graphic arts. I have been making monoprints of familiar objects or themes, in this case playing with the famous Cervantes novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha. The texts and objects in my prints intentionally float in an "empty" space, the darkness of dreams or the white expanse of the imagination meant to prompt the viewer to consider current events in context or in juxtaposition with greater social issues. I use black humor and irony to both mediate the overwhelming nature of social, political and cultural misadventures and to point to their abject absurdity.
 
In this print, gender roles and the setting are changed, it's Doña Quijote de la Academia, wherein a female professor in full regalia on horseback charges in to tackle the dragon of the Academy. She tilts at the whirling windmill with its paddles (or sails) of Fame, Reason, History and Tenure. It might help the viewer to know that I was the first tenured woman in the Art Department at my college and am currently the first and singular female full professor.
 
National statistics show that women are still only about thirty-six percent of the tenured faculty at four-year degree-granting institutions and represent only twenty-one percent of the full professors. To challenge the status quo in academia is what the scholar Paula J. Caplan termed "lifting a ton of feathers." It's a daunting task, a fluid, whirling target hard to get your arms (or mind) around, difficult to strategize in regard to a culture that came up with the absurd notion that we are now all "post-feminist." Academic tenure has given me resources to make art, travel the world, exhibit professionally, be remembered, have a career. It has also allowed me to understand my privilege in that regard and see what still needs to be done. I hope some humor and allegory might serve to humanize and make present the greater problematics of social change and the ongoing struggle for equality.
 
Heidi A. Goldberg
Associate Professor of Art
Concordia College-Moorhead
Where Wind Blows, 2009
Intaglio and mixed media on paper
21 x 27 inches
 
Advancement in the field of wind technology and the promise of change for good that it will bring is exciting and inspiring to me. Living in rural southeastern North Dakota (a state which has been referred to as the "Saudi Arabia of Wind Power") I find it fascinating to witness the mixture of reactions people of the state and region are expressing as wind development explodes. Excitement about participating in new technology that is good for our planet and in the economic boon that comes with it is cooled by community concerns such as noise, wildlife disruption, and the change of the horizon.
 
 
Arnoldus J. Grüter
Ph.D. Psychologist and Artist
Artist in Residence, Emeritus, Minnesota State University-Mankato
FEMINA-TURBINA, 2009
Acrylic on canvas (triptych)
48 x 74 inches
 
As an artist who was born and raised in the Netherlands, I may have had an unfair advantage of having been exposed to the many kinds of windmills that little country on the North Sea possesses. To compensate for this apparent favoritism I have introduced, incorporated and emphasized the theme of man's and woman's creative urge that so heavily has influenced the collective actions and endeavors of mankind. Not just satisfied with the status quo and its relative state of comfort as depicted on the left panel, a woman as the symbol of creativity, upsets long established patterns and develops new acceptable actions and behaviors (center panel). The third and last panel depicts the fundamental changes established by women, the givers of life who use simple natural forces like wind, to establish the desired social equilibrium. The whole story is depicted as a triptych, a traditional way of expressing profoundness by means of the ternary system.
 
 
Fred Hagstrom
Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Art
Carleton College
Sentinel, 2009
Intaglio, chine collé on paper
16 x 10 inches
 
In the important article "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis" (1967), historian Lynn White makes the point that our ecological problems could be traced to a spiritual problem. His thesis boils down to this: As long as we see nature as a gift for us to use, rather than seeing ourselves as bound up within nature, we are doomed to degrade the natural world. In other words, a religious/world view that stresses man's dominion over nature has a limited life span. He is concerned about a particular interpretation of a Judeo Christian viewpoint that has permitted nature to be used beyond reasonable limits.
 
I agree with this, and so I find it both ironic and hopeful to now see wind turbines standing up as something like protective figures, or even as somewhat like the symbol of the cross, across our prairie.
 
 
Joel Hansen
Cab Driver
Turbulence(ine), 2009
Monotype/linoleum relief on paper
27 x 34 inches
 
I have never been to the Netherlands, nor have I lived in the seventeenth-century. I find that, regardless of time and distance, the basic elements that my Dutch predecessors revered are in abundance in modern mid-west America. Undulating lands sans mountains or ocean pressed under a dynamic, even foreboding, sky, punctuated by evidence of human intervention can be found everywhere and are no less inspirational here today than there, then.
 
The majesty and energy of an active atmosphere is a humbling notion. The idea of human dominion over it is an act of hubris. When we tap its power for milling or electrical generation only the slightest portions are used. Still it should be done. An ever-present energy source without the burning of fuel is a good plan. Additionally, artistically, the three-blade turbine design is aesthetically pleasing.
 
 
Ross Hilgers
Associate Professor of Art
Concordia College-Moorhead
Terrane with Turbine, 2009
Earthenware
11 x 16 x 10 inches
 
My latest series, "Terrane," is about the earth because it is the earth. Literally. It's made with our earth: clay. Many people don't think of ceramic sculpture and our earth in this context of merging material with message. But I do. I created a manifestation of the earth inspired by the earth-its beauty and its fragility. As a series, "Terrane" marks a significant point in my creative life, voicing my passions with more clarity than ever. For years, I have worked subtlety, quietly, behind the scenes for the protection of the earth. With "Terrane," though, I initiated a tangible, sustainable approach to creating and teaching. I began working more sustainably by finishing each piece in the series either by painting or by firing to low-fire temperatures. Both of these finishing processes result in a much smaller carbon footprint than my previous high-fire cone 10 firing processes.
 
Along with the greening of my artwork, I began teaching a new class, Sustainable Ceramics, at Concordia College. This course focuses on shifting Concordia's ceramics studio toward a sustainable direction with all materials we use in the creative process. This means digging our clay, making our glazes, and firing our kilns to lower temperatures in more fuel-efficient ways. All of this takes time. Time to release ourselves from trusted results and methods, time to develop new aesthetically pleasing materials, and time to encourage those around us that this endeavor is not only worth the work, but also an enjoyable conversion process. "Terrane," then, is a symbol of beginning, a symbol of how much I care about our beautiful, fragile earth.
 
 
Nicole Roberts Hoiland
Visiting Assistant Professor
Gustavus Adolphus College
Historical Collection, 2009
Stoneware, slip, glaze, wood
33 x 24 x 2 inches
 
My work is a personal reflection of society. I am influenced by personal memories and experiences, literature, socio-political events; creating a narrative in each piece that reflects those ideas. After an initial connection between an idea and a visual form (usually an everyday object), I create pieces fast, allowing for the intuitive process to combine form and concept. Clay allows me to switch with ease between the artistic concept and the actual piece. I use each sculptural form as a tool to illustrate a certain function or narrative. The overall work exhibits elements of the abstract and the real, ironic, humorous and serious.
 
The cheeseboard installation piece is reminiscent of objects I have seen in many kitchens growing up. These boards had tiles, whose subject matter ranged from delft iconography of rural landscapes, complete with windmills and rolling fields, to idyllic scenes of family life. I set out to modernize this American wall art by looking at the Northern Renaissance's symbolic imagery, delftware, pop cultural images and photographs I took. I wanted these pieces to appear to the viewer as strangely familiar, but hopefully more truthful and reflective of modern life.
 
 
Andrew Judkins
Artist, writer and composer
In the Wind Farm, 2009
Acrylic on panel
20 x 16 inches
 
Being in a wind farm is engulfing. This painting is simply a representation of what a wind farm looks like and feels like for me.
 
Wind turbines and clean power have come to represent the best in humanity. Some might forget that a wind farm is a double-edged sword. As a landscape painter, this reality doesn't escape me. Wind farms drastically alter the landscape. It is a place of contradictions. On one hand, it is an alien place. A strange, menacing crop seemingly grown for giants sprouts as far as the eye can see. On the other hand it is an interesting and inspiring place, both aesthetically and conceptually. It is a place of progress and unity and the turbines are graceful giants.
 
Andrew Judkins is a painter whose landscape paintings are representations of Minnesota locations. He uses dashing brushwork and color to convey the energy of nature and the mental world of the artist. He also enjoys painting still-lifes, self-portraits, and abstractions. Recently, he has been painting a series about the singer/songwriter Roy Orbison.
 
 
Ann E. Judkins
Visual Artist
Onward and Upward, 2009
Merged digital photography
31 x 25 inches
 
Cat's paw creeping across the water filling sail, triangle of power pulling boat over wave
 
upon wave -- wind is my freedom.
 
 
Clouds racing, building towers of whiteness, ocean waves collapsing in a roar, ripples of
 
grass racing over the prairie, sands sculpted in abstraction -- wind is an artist.
 
 
Graceful white giants on the hill, mere pinwheels on the horizon, blades slice the sky,
 
nature's power transformed -- wind is our future.
 
 
Diane Katsiaficas
Professor of Art
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Intrusive Harvesters/Iconic Structures, 2009
Digital composites, laser cut plywood
Composites 15 x15 inches, plywood 5 _ x 5 _ inches
 
I spend part of each year in Greece. I am fascinated by the remnants of windmills that one finds scattered throughout the Greek island landscape (particularly the islands of Tinos, Mykonos, Sifnos, Hydra). I draw them with whimsy. They are iconic, spellbinding structures reminiscent of the past wisdom and ingenuity that harnessed a basic element and insured the energy for daily essentials and industry. Today, this curious architecture is being given new form as residences.
 
I have also dedicatedly watched the development of wind farms on the island of Evia that is opposite from where I live. The structures of the wind turbines at first repulsed me. I saw them as an invasion of the nostalgic landscape of Greece that is rapidly disappearing. But I value them as a means to harvest an essential energy resource. "This is good," I tell myself. "Ecology sometimes demands another aesthetic." So I photograph their development and muse about their intrusion.
 
 
Po-Lin Tong Kosuth
Associate Professor of Art
The College of St. Scholastica
Fire Series #9, 2007
Oil pastel and colored pencil on paper
24 x 20 inches
Lent by Channing and Pamela Luden
 
This painting is not meant to make a judgment on the invention of the windmill but is simply a visual and emotional response.
 
 
Jess Larson
Associate Professor of Art
University of Minnesota-Morris
21st Century Alphabet: E is for Energy, 2009
Digital print and embroidery on silk
17 _ x 13 inches
 
I have been collecting old flashcards out of a fascination in the simplicity of these objects as a teaching tool. Nobody ever thinks to question the card -- but instead makes a point to master the image and word combination. This notion as been a starting point for my current work to challenge societal norms for women and question the very idea of taking things at face value.
 
For this exhibit, I thought about how the imagery has changed over time on flash cards. It's been especially important to me as I watch a close friend's young son, Oliver, navigate the early stages of learning through visual and verbal cues. 1950's era imagery reflects the post-war era of nuclear family and an expanding middle class. So what reflects the twenty-first-century? I think it will soon be commonplace to equate wind with energy. Oliver lives in a world where he won't question a turbine's ability to generate electricity to power his school, home and city.
 
 
Sara J. Leadholm
Plein Air Painter
Fan Fair, (Fare), 2009
Oil on canvas
11 x 14 inches
 
Embracing and capturing the light, the elements, the varying color.... are what I try to do as a plein air painter. Living on the northern edge of the Great Plains where prairie winds are an integral part of our lives as they create the temperament of our four seasons, I think of the legends of the Oglala people who also live here. Oglala legends considered the four winds to be their universe. It was these four unique winds and their personality traits that created this world and gave meaning and life to their traditions.
 
Black Elk envisioned the four winds as wild horses, twelve raging stallions from the west with manes of lightning and thunder in their nostrils, while winds from the north appear as twelve white horses with their manes flowing like a blizzard and from the east, sorrels with manes of morning light, and from the south with manes that grew like trees and grasses. He saw these powerful winds meet and dance until all of them turned into every living thing. His imagery was hopeful. This imagery is powerful.
 
Capturing and utilizing some of the power of the four winds to support and sustain our life for our planet seems essential. As a plein air painter, I see the mighty clouds and the power behind them and have tried to capture it with paint. I, not unlike the plain dwellers before me, believe that the wind has the power to help bring a solution to life for our planet. The energy production from a clean sustainable source will help us clean the air we breathe now so we pass on a legacy of using, respecting and caring for nature into the future.
 
 
Kristen Lowe
Assistant Professor of Art
Gustavus Adolphus College
24/7 Landscape, 2009
Mixed media
22 x 62 inches
 
The drawing, 24/7 Landscape, is a loose visual interpretation on the formal model of Japanese scrolls. These scrolls, especially the Emaki narrative scrolls that originated from the Heian period (ninth through twelfth century), were longer in length and horizontal in orientation.
 
Rather than bringing together text and images, as the Emaki scrolls did, and illustrate a story about the current green energy debates I was interested in a strict visual depiction. The flat, stark, identical windmills are an icon peppered across a romantic, post-Western Renaissance drawing of mountains. With two recognizable images, albeit in distinct contrast, the viewer can imagine and reflect on their own experience of seeing wind turbines working 24/7 across our landscape.
 
 
Bruce McClain
Professor of Art
Gustavus Adolphus College
Night Winds, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
54 x 72 inches
 
When I was a child nearly every farm in our community had a windmill standing tall above the adjoining buildings. Most of these machines no longer served their original function of pumping water from wells. Though the function of the windmill on our farm was replaced by the "progress" of using a diesel engine it still impressed me with its presence. It required some bravery to climb the open metal structure for a great view of the surrounding landscape, but it was worth the risk. Now very few of these sentinels still exist with the exception of those in use on Amish farms. The newly erected modern wind generators are larger in scale and march in rows on large open fields.
 
In the painting Night Winds, I have attempted to bring together my memories of the multiple tin blades of our farm windmill with the modern towers of today. Driving through southern Minnesota near the fields of wind generators at night challenged me to paint these huge machines. Two horizons are used to depict the evolution from day to night with curving lines representing the movement of the wind through the landscape. Hopefully the painting brings forward some of the poetic mystery of these machines.
 
 
Rob McColl
Assistant Professor of Art
St. Mary's University-Winona
Weather or Not, 2009
Tempera on recycled panel and wood
14 _ x 17 _ x 1 _ inches
 
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
 
In my piece Weather or Not, I am interested in the transformative effect the wind has on that which stands in its path. The wind twists, bends, and etches lines in wood, metal, and rock.
 
By yielding to the wind these materials lose the rigidity and stability of things new, but they gain character and beauty.
 
 
Stephen Mohring
Associate Professor of Art
Carleton College
Folly, 2009
Cherry, maple, stainless steel, electronics, video
(video editing by Lewis Weinberg and Stephen Mohring; camera work by Alissa Pajer)
57 x 14 x 43 inches
 
This piece developed from my interest in both applied technology and the folly of our deep desire to find a technological panacea that will save us from ourselves.
 
 
Joel Moline
Printmaker, Public School Art Instructor-Emeritus
Wind Toilers, 2009
Linoleum cut on paper
9 X 7 inches
 
I had always seen wind turbines at a distance. Creating a work of art for this show gave me the reason to get to know them more personally. I traveled to a wind farm, found gravel roads that got me as close as possible to the giant structures. I was amazed at their true size. I'd always thought of them as silent sentinels harvesting the unseen movements of the air. The silence was soon replaced with the realization of the sounds of gears engaging and a low sonorous hum. Then there was the almost imperceptible movement of the unit to adjust to wind direction and velocity.
 
In this print I wanted to show the clean simplicity of the form. Each of the blades had a complex aerodynamic form that reminded me of a glider wing. Looking up I saw what almost seemed a dancers grace in the silent movement against the blue sky, and that too is part of what I tried to portray in this print.
 
 
Jenny Nellis
Morse/Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Studio Art
University of Minnesota-Morris
Untitled, 2009
Basswood
70 x 36 x 18 inches
 
I am an object maker, a sculptor, a translator of ideas and things from one medium to another for consideration and contemplation.
 
I work in a variety of materials and techniques, primarily three dimensionally. I like the tactile quality of forms and materials. I like the repetitive chip, chip, chipping away at wood, the malleability of clay and wax, the challenge of combining objects from nature with manmade objects. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of signs along the road, buildings in the landscape, organic contrasted with geometric, and the result of unstoppable corrosion and decomposition of manmade structures and objects in the face of natural elements.
 
As an avid gardener, I like to focus on the textures, colors, forms, shapes, cycles, and potential found in nature. Observations in gardens and weed patches of tiny seeds, seedpods, leaf and flower buds, flower parts, and other plant fragments inspire many of my current works. So much of our designed and constructed world is based on the successful and elegant designs of nature.
 
The wind turbine is so like so many flower forms it is impossible to compare to just one. The wind that affects the turbine also affects many plants, spinning and driving their seeds into the ground to continue the cycle. My sculpture of the effects of wind and translated design is the box elder seed that falls outside my studio door almost within sight of the turbine on the ridge.
 
 
Patricia Olson
Associate Professor and Sister Mona Riley Endowed Professor in the Humanities
St. Catherine University
Love the Invisible, 2009
Oil on panel (diptych)
16 x 32 inches
 
... that we might love
the invisible
that finally whisks us
all away.
- from "Disperse," by Florence Chard Dacey, in
Rock Worn by Water, Plain View Press
 
As a figurative painter in the middle of a portrait project, this work depicts the model's (my daughter Sonia Hazard) interaction with the wind as it comes across the prairie. There's a tension between how the direction of the light is depicted and the opposing direction of the wind. The two panels are also in dialog with each other: one is primarily illusionistic and the other expressionistic and abstract.
 
 
Lois Peterson
Professor of Art
Gustavus Adolphus College
Circular Flight Patterns, 2008
Mixed media drawing
48 x 48 inches
 
As one reflects upon the history of rural landscapes, the windmill is one of the predominant and romanticized symbols of many interpretations of a bygone era.
 
Today, a new version of a windmill has emerged, in the form of the wind turbine; this new inhabitant of our landscape has, once again, caused us to look at our landscapes anew. One cannot help but to be drawn to the sheer sculptural beauty of their sleek, minimalist forms moving through the open sky. There is, however, no such thing as anything, however mesmerizing, having no imprint regarding the balance of nature. My drawing imagines the plight of haphazard birds, whose flight pattern has just encountered the new player in the sky, the wind turbine.
 
 
Charlie Putnam
K-5 Art Teacher, Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools and
Adjunct Faculty, Minnesota State University-Mankato
Wind and Air, 2009
Acrylic and collage on panel
24 x 30 inches
 
The title of my painting is Wind and Air and is about the universal desire for simple pleasures and comfort. I know that I personally take the comforts of home for granted most of the time. It's only when I've experienced the furnace quitting in the dead of winter or when the air conditioner breaking down during the "dog days" of summer that I realize how much I depend on energy and that I don't appreciate the comforts of home as much as I should. This painting recalls a time in my life when an open window and a fan were the best and only options for keeping cool on a hot day. In this piece, a man is sitting in a chair with a fan blowing on his feet. Through the open window I show a wind generator and a power line running to the house. The wind is not only providing the power to run the fan, but also blowing fresh air into the room. The mask worn by the man is of no particular significance other than being a playful way to suggest something mysterious about his character.
 
 
Linda Rossi
Associate Professor of Art
Carleton College
Holland, Minnesota, 2009
Pigmented ink on canvas
16 _ x 21 inches
 
Nineteenth-century American artists of the Hudson River School and their successors painted panoramic landscapes that celebrated the pristine beauty of the untamed American wilderness, infusing it with spiritual significance and national pride. Such scenes inspired a sense of mingled awe, fear, and human insignificance that the Romantics called the sublime.
 
Standing in Holland, Minnesota I witness beauty and terror coming together in the sublime. I gaze on the huge black and white wind turbines at Buffalo Ridge, which resemble the blades of World War II fighter planes. They stand 257 feet tall and weigh 196,000 pounds. A herd of black and white Holsteins originally from Holland lounge in the foreground.
 
As an artist, I explore visual representations of our relationship to nature. Like seventeenth-century Dutch painters, who represented the windmills of their day, I combine technology and bucolic subjects in a single image.
 
 
Elaine Rutherford
Associate Professor of Art
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University
Windsong, 2009
Mixed media on panel
24 x 48 inches
 
My sabbatical two years ago was spent on the Isle of Arran on the southwest coast of Scotland (my country of origin/home). My studio faced, directly across the water to the Barhill wind farm in Ardrossan where the wind turbines exert a powerful aesthetic presence in relation to the rugged beauty of the Scottish countryside.
 
In parts of Scotland wind energy has been sold as not only a responsible environmental choice but also as an opportunity to revive dying rural and island communities. While wind farms present opportunities for revenue and employment, they also present destruction of natural wildlife habitats, danger to migrating birds and interruption of the rugged beauty of the Scottish countryside. The juxtaposition of the sinister beauty of the wind turbines against the sublime beauty of the Scottish countryside and shorelines presents an aesthetic and intellectual dilemma.
 
Windsong is constructed of panel and box insert. It is coated in aluminum foil, which is etched and painted. Inside the recessed box are beeswax boats and houses. These might reference Scottish villages and industry (fishing). The sinister beauty of the turbines at the bottom of the picture plane, usually white in color, are depicted in black or in silhouette in contrast with the atmosphere of the upper portion of the piece. The text in the upper portion is from a Scottish phonetic poem called Windsong, by Dilys Rose.
 
 
Dave Ryan
Visiting Professor of Art
Gustavus Adolphus College
Live Wire Switch Grass Shiver, 2009
Mixed media
 
In this piece I wanted to re-present the live presence of the wind outside the gallery space (streaming live from the top of Olin Hall) in a way that highlights its invisibility, unpredictability and power and points to the energy demands required by the isolation of interior environments.
 
Energy systems depend on the process of transduction (the conversion of one form of energy into another) to render raw resources into a deliverable stream of power. Live Wire Switch Grass Shiver follows the same logic but leads to a different conclusion. The force of the wind vibrates a steel wire and sets off slight magnetic disturbances which are transduced into an electrical current. This signal is processed and streamed over the internet to the gallery space. Here it is converted back to an artificial rumble of wind in your ear.
 
When wind conditions are right the isolated and domesticated switch grass will tremble slightly in reverberations of the wind outside.
 
 
John Saurer
Associate Professor of Art
St. Olaf College
Whisper, 2009
Leaves, paper, hardware installation
90 x 90 x 3 inches
 
The rhythm of walking along a railroad track or pacing the white lines down the middle of a highway; counting spaces between the cars of a coal train; the steady work of weaving material by hand: over-under-over-under; the breathing of a small child as she sleeps in the bed handmade by my wife. I have discovered that my artwork is a metaphor for order: sometimes re-expressing order found in the landscape, a mechanical process, the rhythm of form, a specific event, personal relationships, expressions of realism, and the life around me. Each work is a collaboration of many independent parts that are crafted to come together and express a larger whole.
 
I was fortunate to be present during the installation of the new wind-turbine at St. Olaf College in the autumn of 2006. I was able to explore the edge of each blade, study every bolt hole, and follow all of the welded seams. I was captivated during the entire process, as these are truly beautiful (and noble) objects. Whisper is a small recollection of that event, a recognition of the role these magnificent machines play in our society, and a reference to the nearly omnipotent presence of our campus windmill.
 
 
Wayne Schmidt
Photographer
Catch the Wind, 2009
Digital photography
21 x 27 inches
 
Mankind has taken advantage of the winds for centuries. From the early sailors controlling the winds to explore distant lands, to kids today flying kites for fun. And now with the interest in development of wind turbines to power our homes, businesses and cars it is becoming an idea that is being looked seriously. The concept is simple, but the implementation is challenging. In creating this photo I choose the old farm windmill, many that still dot our rural landscape. As a symbol of a bygone era, many of these windmills still exist, once a very functional part of rural life, they stand forgotten slowly rusting away. The challenge for me was not to photograph just another old standing windmill, but to include another element that had something to do with movement of air. I thought about birds and wanted one that was conducive to a traditional farm, thus the chicken. Even this lonely ground feeding, egg-laying hen, when tossed in the air caught the wind in such a way as to execute a safe landing. Many thanks to this old hen for enduring a dozen or so tosses by the farmer to get this shot. She walked away after the photo session like it was no big deal. The upper half of the photo represents calmness and piece of mind one could get knowing we are using a renewable nonpolluting form of energy, and the lower half the confusion and chaos that is required to get there. Maybe some day we will view wind turbines dotting our landscape much like the old windmills, as no big deal, there presents, a common site providing clean renewable energy.
 
 
Kenneth Steinbach
Professor of Art in Sculpture
Bethel University
#46 (Fan with Fast Food Bag and Hammer), 2009
Ink drawings suspended in layers of epoxy resin on aluminum panel (triptych)
49 1/8 x 23 _ inches
 
The energy created by windmills is generated from a gathered collection of moments.
 
Though it is a scientific description, within this observation I find metaphorical resonance with my own work from the past few years, which has focused on images embedded in layers of resin, repeated drawings of common, frequently mundane objects that we encounter but seldom regard with any serious consideration.
 
The process of making the works defines much of the their content. The works are painstakingly built up, with drawings hand rendered, one image at a time, between the layers of resin, with up to sixty layers of drawings in each work. Each object drawn is created and destroyed multiple times, rendered onto the resin as a complete object, then covered over with more images and layers of resin that obscures them, sometimes eliminating multiple layers of work entirely, existing only as shadows that infer the presence of buried drawings. In this back and forth process, the act of finding and discarding, creating and destroying, is regarded endlessly, becoming the content of the work as much as any drawn form. I find these rhythms resonating with many experiences we have in our lives, in seasonal changes, daily rhythms, work and life patterns, experiences that are nearly identical, that reveal their meaning only through the passage of time. With these concerns there is a strong connection to seventeenth-century Dutch still life traditions, artworks that also emphasize the passage of time, temporal and permanent elements within our lives, and the energies generated by objects and situations in our environments.
 
 
Hal Walberg
Professor of Art, Emeritus
Minnesota State University-Mankato
Momentum, 2009
Mixed media bas relief
24 x 47 inches
 
Windmills and wind turbines are strange things. They make the invisible visible. They transform linear forces into circular movement, and that into energy. Through them, air -- the most ethereal of things -- generates immense power. They bring the potentials of matter into the world of actual human needs. With one foot in raw nature, one in modern technology, they borrow from nature without depleting it. As structures with a distinct look and function they impose a unique meaning on any space where they are sited. They have a kind of profound and rhythmic gravity.
 
Momentum does not represent these monumental presences as objects, and even abstractions of their appearances are barely alluded to. Momentum is primarily about the process of shaping and using what is given. The grammar of its forms intends to evoke the flow and cadences of the forces of change. It counterpoints the organic and the artificial; complex outputs derived from simple inputs; hard and long lasting with soft and transitory. Finally, it is about both the messy and the elegant in human intervention in nature, or in the creation in art.
 
Hal Walberg taught philosophy at Minnesota State University for thirty-six years, specializing in the philosophy of art. Since retirement his works have been exhibited in solo and group show throughout the region. He recently received a McKnight Emerging Artist Grant.
 
 
Sandra Walberg
Painter and fiber artist
Faculty/Administrator, Emeritus, Minnesota State University-Mankato
Earth Breath, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
52 x 66 inches
 
My first view of a mass of wind turbines coming up abruptly along a California highway evoked a burst of amazement and delight, which continues to this day, whenever I see even one of them in a field. At that moment I feel like a young child in the back seat of the family car, out for a Sunday drive, jumping up and calling out excitedly at just then spotting them, "horsey! horsey!"
 
But also now there is all this significance of what they're about, what it means for our world, our times, our/everyone's life.
 
Sandra Walberg is a visual artist living near Mankato, Minnesota. She has taught art from grade school through college level, and has exhibited paintings and drawings at many solo and juried exhibitions.
 
Earthbreath
 
Great, graceful monoliths
dancing with light and air.
 
Breathing in this essence
Heart beating with this presence
Breathing with the canvas
dancing with light and color.
 
Outside of time and place
moving here with process
sighing, one with process.
 
Between the push and the pull
the will and the wonder
the opening and flowing
pulsing, surging, listening
giving, yielding
felt sense.
Earth Breath
e a r t h b r e a t h
 
 
Jeff Wetzig
Associate Professor of Art
Bethel University
Quixote's America, 2008
Sculpture and printmaking
36 x 32 x 48
 
Windmills first interested me when I was rereading Don Quixote a couple of summers ago. In the book's most notorious battle, Quixote sees a field of windmills as ferocious giants to be fought, and despite Sancho Panza's attempt to set him straight, he attacks a windmill and gets thrown from his horse, severely injuring himself. Afterwards, when seeing the windmills as they are, Quixote believes that a magician has changed the giants to windmills to frustrate his attempts at winning glory. I began to see our oppositional politics as a current example of "tilting at windmills." The windmill becomes an apt metaphor for how we choose to see as evil those whose views differ from ours.
 
 
Brad Widness
Minnesota State University-Mankato
Dualities in the Wind--Coming Together, 2009
Hand-pulled print--intaglio etching, drypoint, collagraph, chine collé on paper (diptych)
36 x 20 inches
 
Key ideas when creating this piece -- with this theme of the wind turbine -- have been the sensation and wondering about tremendous "opposites", dichotomies, a "pairing" of dual realities -- totally different from one another, yet deeply needing each other and relating to each other in several contexts. As I've gone through research, lots of looking and contemplation over the wind turbine -- on our contemporary landscape -- I am constantly struck by the juxtaposition of this monumental machinery with the silent elegance of its visual form, movement and presence on the prairie (at least from a sizable distance). Other dualities that come immediately to mind when trying to fully reckon with these incredible machines are their silent presence and "grace" versus their sheer mass when viewed up close; their unadulterated, vertical ascendancy versus the horizontal expanse and character of the plains' landscape. I further see this timeless tension of the vertical versus the horizontal, expressed by the turbine's presence, as metaphor to how the human species has used these two archetypal orientations of space to mark off territory and space through time-of plotting space on a graph with x and y axis -- a limited two-dimensional plane -- in the forever attempt to express the fullness of actual three-dimensional space -- to realize our existence, or just "existence" within this space. In this sense the turbine, in a way, I feel becomes a sort of contemporary "cathedral" of the plains and prairie -- being a symbol of elegant design and innovative engineering as well as being a vertical gesture of "praise" and simultaneous reverential respect of the sublime, the Divine, the eternal processes of Nature that we need, now more than ever, to cooperate with -- be stewards of -- and revere.
 
A final thought -- when seeing the turbines against the big sky -- and while in the process of creating this image -- I'm reminded of another duality: the turbine as a tangible form made to help us control the intangible (wind) -- a limited form -- still to be perfected -- yet infinite-feeling in its designed structure and movement that we use to help us harness, if not only to barely understand, the unlimited and infinite power of nature. From this I am personally led to the conclusion that they are not only to be seen as providing us with desperately needed energy for living -- but ought to help us finally SEE our ultimate, simultaneous insignificance, yet also precious significance as a species in the face of Nature, the Creation and the earth itself.
 
 
Dean Wilson
Professor of Art in Furniture Design
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Wilson Wind Chair, 2009
Steel, wood, fabric, assorted mechanics
69 x 44 x 40 inches
 
I grew up in West Central Minnesota in the early 1950's, when my parents had a summer cabin on Lake Koronis. Driving to the cabin meant driving through farm country where just about every farm had a working windmill drawing water for the livestock. When we got to the lake, I would run from cabin to cabin with neighbor kids, flying past Adirondack chairs in many of the yards. Another memory is of the Meeker County Fair where we begged for pinwheels to spin in the breeze. These mental images coalesced into my memory chair, the Wilson Wind Chair.
 
I have always been interested in mechanical linkages and inventions. My master's thesis, Patent Pending, was an exhibition of fantastical machines, including a Chaise Lounge Lawn Mower. For this Wilson Wind Chair I have returned to my inventive roots to create a chair that will cool you as well as seat you in comfort. By gently pumping your feet in front, you activate the pulleys that turn the pinwheels. I worked in pine and steel, the materials of many windmills. The two back structures play off the form of Minnesota steel windmills. The two front supporting structures mimic the wooden windmills of Texas.
 
I have always believed that people should have fun with art. So sit down, relax, and have a cool one.
 
 
Denice Fetzer Woller
Professional Photographer and Photography Instructor
Bethany Lutheran College
Spinning into a New Ag 2009
Digital photography
11 x 14 inches
 
As a photographer, I have always thought of windmills as beautiful objects for potentially fascinating subject matter. Both the new and old wind powered machines have captured my attention for years, and I have many photographs to prove it. As the daughter of a farmer, I have always appreciated windmills for their practicality in keeping the cattle watered, or the prairie wind working to fill the tank for our "swimming pool" on a hot summer South Dakota day. As a mother, I enjoy hearing the excitement in my children's voices when we are close enough to see either a windmill or a wind turbine as we drive through the country. It seems as if their excitement will never grow old. I understand.
 
I really enjoy the dichotomy of old and new things. For almost five years I have been working on a project consisting of images that document the transitions of rural America. Few things are more "rural America" than windmills. I have yet to capture my "dream" windmill photo. During my numerous photo adventures I have racked up thousands of miles in search of it. However, the other surprises I find along the way, such as this image from near Mountain Lake, are what makes the search worth it all.



Return to Winds of Inspiration, Winds of Change

 


Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2009 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.