Ripe for Analysis | Emily Stokes

Minnesota Gallery | On view through February.

The visual work in this show concerns the iconography and narratives that give weight and structure to rural culture. Stokes combines printmaking, painting, and drawing to yield intricate images that serve as a form of visual dialogue.

Emily Stokes currently is an Assistant Professor of Art at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. She holds an MFA in printmaking from Arizona State University, and a BA from Wellesley College. Stokes draws upon her Midwestern roots, interest in vernacular culture, and the narratives implied within the seemingly ordinary to create her visual work. Recent achievements include a Purchase Award at the 29th Annual McNeese Works on Paper juried exhibition (2016), a solo show at Illinois Wesleyan University (2015), and grants from both Wellesley College and Northwestern College in support of creative pursuits.


My recent visual work concerns the narratives and iconography of rural vernacular culture. I have become interested in the capacity of wide expanses of land to trigger anxiety, the militant preservation of cultural heritage, and the sense of resourcefulness that comes when “normal” amenities – shopping malls, cultural sites – are 60+ ice-packed miles away. Everything becomes amplified, almost amusingly cinematic in a sparsely populated place, and daily patterns and places become sources of visual weight. The insistent niceties and idyllic traditions within rural American enclaves, however, cannot always conceal the challenges wrought by political, religious, and demographic shifts. Using painting, printmaking, drawing, and digital imaging, I choreograph narratives with recurrent iconography, such as tree stumps, shards of ice, cattle trailers, animals, and haystacks to explore these undercurrents of tension.