COMMUNITY VOICES | At the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2013 Jerome Fellows emerge with an exceptional show


Guests filled the Minneapolis College of Art and Design [MCAD] Friday night to honor the Jerome Foundation Fellowships granted to Emerging Artists.  The Minnesota Fellows were:  Susannah Bielak, Amanda Hankerson, Michael Hoyt, Melissa Loop, and Lauren Roche.  Each received a $10,000 grant to further develop their artistic careers.

Senior Program Director Eleanor Savage, of the Jerome Foundation talked about the application process.  “The Jerome Foundation funds the program for the honored fellows and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design administers it.  We are a non-profit, philanthropic corporation whose mission is to support emerging artists in the creation of new work.”

Kerry Morgan of MCAD, explained the juror selection process.  “This is a competitive grant and the Fellows who receive it have to impress three independent arts professionals who hold a deep knowledge of art making practices.”

Juror Miranda Lash, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art, one of the jurors, talked about the judging.”All three of us began by reviewing the art work digitally for the 245 artists who applied.  Then, we narrowed it down to a small group of 12 artists.  The two of us from out of town flew in and met with the in-state juror to discuss the artists and their work.   We interviewed the 12 artists, completed studio visits, and evaluated their originals in person.” 

Jill Ewald, Former Director of the Flaten Museum at St. Olaf College discussed the intensity of the experience.  “The level of art was very high.  We had also received an astonishing array of media from installations, performance art, along with more traditional oil and acrylic paintings, photography, and sculpture.”  The third juror, Ms. Tse, artist and professor at the California Institute of Art was unavailable for comment.  

The artists stood by their displays and talked about their art work.  Hoyt discussed the portraits of people he sketched in the parks.  One was titled Clyde.  The face revealed tattoos; Godz Gift on one check, Loyalty on both.  “Art in the city,” Mike said, and pointed to his desk on a bike he rode through Minneapolis to catch life on the playground, life in the park, reporting, “I want people to believe that art is truly for everyone—and make it present in their/our everyday worlds.  When I was finished sketching Clyde, I took a print copy and gave him a copy to keep.”

Amanda Hankerson photographed people who shared the Hankerson name.  She spoke crisply to one guest, “There are but a few thousand Hankersons in the United States.  I found Hankersons I had never met on Facebook and asked them if I could take their picture.  During this process, I discovered slavery was part of the Hankerson history.”   

All of Lauren Roche’s paintings were eerie abstractions of mood and moment. Red, black, yellow orange acrylic paintings of people built tension and pierced the inner core.  Ms. Roche reported, “I consider it my therapy.  I go to the zone and work through my emotions.”

Melissa Loop’s paintings of acrylic and spray paint carried guests to homes that revealed the lifestyle of many Polynesians; shanties resting by the ocean, palm trees swaying in the breeze.  Ms. Lash, the juror from New Orleans, emphasized how impressed she was with Loop’s landscapes.

There was a flurry of questions, especially from young children, about Susannah Bielak’s videos of an isolated cowboy with his lasso and a woman directing people like chords on a guitar.   “I use the power of the wind as a metaphor to speak to power and the limits of control. In the process, I’m collaborating with dancers, poets, and engineers, and using handmade props in the context of real and constructed environments.”  

The opening was over.  All the artists had chosen unusual techniques; the traveling desk in the park, bleach and oils, interactive installations, portraits; art that told unique stories.   It was dark, rain swept the sidewalk as we stepped outside; leaving the lighted world of these young artists’ work.  They had something important to show us about Minnesota and the larger world we share.

Disclosure: Twin Cities Daily Planet arts editor Jay Gabler was visiting critic for the 2012-13 Jerome Fellowship.