Reconfigure | susanna gaunt

Showing February 2019 |  MacRostie Gallery |  Sponsored by Mike Ives Realty


A recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Susanna received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, with an emphasis in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking. She also holds a BA degree in Philosophy from Boston College. Susanna has exhibited her work in galleries and museums throughout the country. Regionally, this includes the Duluth Art Institute, Tweed Art Museum and Prøve Gallery in Duluth, as well as Altered Aesthetics and Minnesota Center for the Book Arts in Minneapolis and the Janet Carson Gallery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Her work has been published in literary journals and trade publications, such as Permafrost and View Camera Magazine. Susanna Gaunt lives and works in Duluth, MN.

Through the month of February, Susanna Gaunt will be showing a collection of her pieces, titled "Reconfigure" at the MAC. Working with a variety of mediums such as drawing, photography and printmaking, Susanna Gaunt uses “Reconfigure” to analyze the human condition through a philosophical and scientific lens. Inspired by historic European curiosity cabinets, natural history museums and personal specimen collections, she tangles human anatomy with animal taxonomy, creating works that encourage curiosity and reflection.

“My artwork is inspired by natural history, in particular the process of collecting, classifying and displaying public and personal specimen collections. My artmaking is fueled by philosophy: a desire to pose questions about human nature and existence; a desire to find meaning and joy in simple things. 

From these two platforms, I explore ways to impose unexpected connections between human and animal, blurring the lines between observer and the observed. The human figure is pinned in a specimen drawer, a moth is highlighted by an x-ray, human and animal details are inventoried on toe tags. The entanglement can disrupt what is known and therefore open a door to curiosity and reflection. 

My exploration stems from questions of why we collect and what deeper emotions or intentions are masked in the process. While a cataloguing of artifacts can increase understanding of both the wider world, and our own physiology, it can also be a diversion from aging and mortality, an attempt to cheat time under the pretext of preservation. In a different light, it can be a way to augment wonder - the process of amassing natural specimens becomes a method for accumulating memories. Research has led me back in time to 16th and 17th century curiosity cabinets, as well as to their successors, the natural history museums of modern day. Contemporary artists such as Mark Dion and Ann Hamilton have caught my attention with their own analysis of museum collections and displays. Dion considers the relationships between objects and how this is influenced greatly by how the display is curated. Hamiltion demands a sensory museum experience with exhibits that encourage viewer participation. In my own work, I am curious about the humanness of the act of collecting. I want to subject humans and beasts to equal scrutiny, control and wonder to reveal the many layers of our relationship to the natural world and to ourselves.

Both inspiration and actual content is derived from natural history illustrations, old medical drawings and text, and from my own photographs and observational drawings. Using collage and piece-specific materials such as LED lights, entomology pins and embroidery, I make two- and three-dimensional works that provide an interactive experience. Seen from afar the installation is a coherent assembly of parts designed to draw in the viewer. Up close, viewers are encouraged to open drawers and turn on lights. Details are revealed with the intention of inspiring a sense of wonder.”


Intimate voodoo: matters of heart

| Naomi Hart

Showing February 2019 |  Minnesota Gallery |  Sponsored by Northview Bank

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Naomi Hart grew up in the Northern Wilds of Minnesota where the natural world became her education and refuge. Hart studied printmaking and book arts culminating in an MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Upstate NY where she combined her love of process with an insatiable need to tell a story. Hart’s intaglio prints have been exhibited throughout the Midwest and have been chosen for exhibition in Italy and as part of a permanent collection in Indianapolis at the Center for Art’s Non Toxic Print Collection. Naomi has been influential in teaching non-toxic printmaking practices across the Midwest and has consulted with studios in developing safer practices in the printmaking arena.

While dark and introspective, Hart’s exhibit “Intimate Voodoo: Matters of Heart” maintains a sense of hopeful wonder and joy. The viewer is quickly pulled into the story and the many layers within each piece. “My work is always an attempt to illustrate the elusive “now”. This moment ripe with potential; dark, mysterious, and fleeting. With the recent death of my parents, my sense of grounding has been drastically altered. My vortex has shifted. The outcome is a deeper, more malleable sense of home which I am being lured into exploring. It is an intimate voodoo and very much a matter of the heart”.

“As an artist I am a storyteller and a time traveler. I am a thoughtful, compulsive, curious soul who fearlessly explores and never ceases to grow. Through my artwork I seek to expose the inner landscape of my own life.  As I move through experiences, each piece is a sojourn, a pause for reflection, a history of the moment.  In my experiences and reflection I am reminded that we are all on a common path of enlightenment. We all seek autonomy of self, while desperate for a sense of connectivity and relevance within our brief time on earth.

My work is an expression of my fascination with a sense of placement and convergence. For the past 15 years my work has been an attempt to illustrate the elusive “now” as it is both shaped by history and at the same time shaping the future. Especially in the moments where life meets death, where sorrow meets joy, or where despair meets hope, I revel in the magic of “this moment” and the intricate depth of our necessary relationship with everything around us. Through a close examination of nature, I reference its symbolism to connect my audience with our shared experience.  I also use text to reference the language of interrelationships, and draw from the mysteries of the natural world to expose the inner.

Each piece begins with a birch panel or a piece of found wood as the foundation and I work with a variety of media before finally bringing the piece to the encaustic studio. My current work will more consistently use an intaglio print as a secondary foundation with layers of drawings, materials and finally hot wax. I love to be led by the flow of working hot wax, and to respond intuitively to it as it forms on the pallet. The wax can be manipulated in so many ways by carving, pouring, tinting and layering, and yet every tender graphite line, even the grain of the wood panel remains visible through the layers. It adds a necessary history to each piece. 

The story never ceases to evolve, and I continue to long to turn to the next page.”