Did you feel you were going to be an artist from the beginning?
Other than a brief moment in elementary school when I wanted to be a veterinarian, I was always interested in making art. My mother was a fiber artist, my stepfather was a potter, and my brother a creative writer, so I was encouraged to pursue my artistic interests. One of the best pieces of advice ever bestowed on me came from my mother: “You can be into the arts, but you must have backup skills.” That’s why I went into Art Education. I think the two careers of an exhibiting artist and a teacher make for a complementary pairing. Ultimately, showing my art makes me a stronger teacher and teaching makes me a stronger artist.
Has teaching at Metropolitan State allowed you to develop as an artist?
Yes. Metropolitan State has financially supported a number of my creative projects. For example, I’ve received stipends to help pay for artist residencies in Vienna, Austria; and Venice, Italy. Similarly, I’ve received support to exhibit my work in New York and Chicago.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a limited edition hardcover book project about my mother, who died three years ago. The book is called Things My Mama Told Me: Words of a Wise Woman. It features the adages and advice my mother provided me throughout her living years, which I continue to hear in my head today. Some of the quotes are practical, some profound.
As I age, I find that preserving family stories are increasingly important to me. Some of the paper for the book was made by hand, incorporating shredded letters from my mother and her ashes.
What was it like to receive the 2018 Minnesota Book Artist Award?
It was a thrill to win the award. I was so emotionally invested in The Love Affair that I cried when I got the call. Since I’m not formally trained in book arts, it was a validation that my bookmaking skills were commendable.
What advice would you give the artists of Metropolitan State University?
Don’t be deterred by the rejections that will surely come your way. All artists experience some negative responses to their work. The more often that you apply for shows and other opportunities, the more you will increase your chances of receiving a positive response.