i want to show you something | meg ojala
Showing July 5 - 27, 2019 | MacRostie Gallery | Sponsored by The Loggy Dome
Meg Ojala: I Want to Show You Something celebrates the 35-year teaching career of Meg Ojala, Professor of Art at St. Olaf College, with a body of new work – a photographic exploration of bogs and fens. For the past 15 years, Ojala’s large-scale photographs have described the spatial ambiguities and seasonal changes on the prairies and riverbanks close to her home and studio near Northfield, Minnesota. This exhibition is a meandering visual and poetic search through ecologically crucial peatlands in Finland, Ireland and Minnesota. Bogs are disorienting, often impassable, ambiguous, slowly changing bodies of sphagnum moss, sedges, carnivorous plants, cranberries, tamarack, and black spruce. The installation of photographs, text, and prints of these captivating ecosystems envelops the viewer in their paradoxes and unfathomability.
Meg Ojala, professor of Art and Art History, received her BA from the University of Minnesota and her MFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Ojala closely observes, draws, and photographs the landscape. She explores perceptions of space, the visual poetry of representation and abstraction, and the ways in which photographs transform the world.
Ojala’s landscape projects include photographs for conservation and protection efforts such as This Perennial Land, a book project encouraging conservation of the Blue Earth watershed, and an interdisciplinary project with St. Olaf colleagues and students retracing the 1838 expedition route of Joseph N. Nicollet.
Ojala is a recipient of numerous awards including multiple McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowships for Photographers, Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants, and a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council. Ojala has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented by Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis.
“For the past two years I have been photographing, researching, and imagining the bogs and fens of the north. I’ve waded into the peatlands of northern Minnesota and traveled to Finland, Scotland, and Ireland to see and photograph bogs and fens. Bogs are disorienting, often impassable, ambiguous, slowly changing entities. They are ecologically crucial and rich with associations. Bogs are paradoxical, bewildering, and they compress time and space. How can I convey this in a body of work? Is it possible to encourage empathy in the viewer for these complex and vital ecosystems? The map-like prints are imagined satellite and microscopic views of northern boglands and lake country from drawings made with peat-derived ink. They are meant to convey the unfathomability of the bog and pose such questions as: What is happening here and on what scale?”
mesabi | athena latocha
Showing July 5 - 27, 2019 | Minnesota Gallery | Sponsored by Oak Hill Assisted Living
Athena LaTocha (b. Anchorage, Alaska) is an artist whose monumental works on paper explore the tenuous relationship between man-made and natural landscapes. Her work has been shown across the country in places such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, CUE Art Foundation, Artists Space, New York State Museum, South Dakota Art Museum, and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage, Alaska. In 2017 she had a solo exhibition at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe. She recently had a solo exhibition at JDJ | The Ice house in Garrison, NY. Her latest monumental ink wash is currently on view through September 30 at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND.
LaTocha is a recipient of awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2016 Painters and Sculptors Grant; 2019 Joan Mitchell Center Residency). Additionally, in 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency. Most recently, she completed the 2018 Winter Workspace Program residency at Wave Hill in the Bronx, New York. LaTocha received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Stony Brook University, New York.
“Having grown up in Alaska, my understanding of the land was influenced by both the rugged monumentality of the terrain and the impact of the oil and gas industry upon the land. To this day, I feel a natural affinity for places and things that evoke those memories, such as the mountains and deserts of the southwest, and excavation sites and earthmoving equipment found in the industrial landscape.
I unfurl large rolls of paper on the floor and immerse myself in the painting, much like being in the landscape. Working from the inside out, I disperse a palette of earth-toned inks with distilled water and industrial solvents, and use aggressive tools such as wire brushes, scrap metal, and reclaimed tire shreds to push the ink around. Surrounded on all sides by the expanse of paper, I move through the work as if I am traversing the terrain. ”