Artist Interview: April Beiswenger

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The installation piece, “A history of all her secret thoughts,” by artist and St. Norbert College theater professor, April Beiswenger, is featured in our Godschalx Gallery from August 31-September 25.  I recently interviewed April about the exhibit:

Describe the piece you are creating in the gallery.

It is an environment. I am asking the viewer to come into a space that encloses them and encircles them with pattern, color, and shape.

How did you choose the title of the work? 

This is my 6th exhibition in the Godschalx gallery and for all but the first, I have taken the title from Shakespeare. This year’s title is from Richard III. I have also taken titles from Hamet, Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Henry VI part II. I think the next exhibition’s title will be from the Tempest.

How do your theater work and gallery work influence one another?  

My theatrical designs and my gallery work are one in the same – they both are concerned with visual narrative and the manipulation of space/objects to affect the viewer. The only difference is in context and expectations.

How do your expectations differ when presenting work in the gallery?
My work in the gallery is purely mine, for better or for worse. Theatre is supremely collaborative – I have colleagues and students that have input into the design for a production and they are partners in the final product. In the gallery, it’s all me, which is terrifying. There is also a difference in audience expectations. In theatre, we control much of the audience’s experience – when and where they sit, what they look at, what they feel, when they laugh, cry, applaud, and even when they go to the restroom. In the gallery, I have no control over the viewer’s experience – again, kind of terrifying and liberating. The supreme experience in the gallery is my experience. They could pick up what I’m putting down or have an entirely different (and valid!) response – the worst thing that could happen is that they are indifferent.

What is your best piece of advice for student artists?

I have three pieces of advice:

1. Stop being afraid – experiment! If it sucks, try something else.

2. Make, make, and make more. Never stop creating!

3. And your art is not as precious as you think, joyously throw your work in the trash and start over.

Where can we find images of your work online? 

My website is theaprildesigns.wordpress.com.

AprilInstaling
April beginning a very labor-intensive installation in the gallery this summer.

Thanks, April, for a delightful interview.  The installation is incredible and can be viewed daily, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. The galleries will also be open to the public on SNC Day, Saturday, September 19, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Behind the Scenes: Unpacking “Mothology”

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Jeff and Wendy of Plantbot Genetics are on campus for The Moth Project artist residency. In addition to creating moth garden installations throughout Brown County this month, they will exhibit Plantbot Genetics: Mothology in the Baer Gallery August 31-September 25, 2015.  We began unpacking some of the work for the exhibition this week.

Packing art is an art in and of itself.  Layers of boxes nest inside each crate and each box holds its own carefully packed set of objects. It’s always fun to unpack the boxes and get that first view of the art.  I photograph crates and boxes in various stages of unpacking and use the pictures as a guide for repacking the objects at the end of the show.  The above photos provide a glimpse of a few of the plantbots and some wonderful drawings that will be part of the exhibition.

Mark your calendars for the following exhibited related events:

Friday, Sept. 18, Artist Talk, 4-5 p.m. and Gallery Reception, 5-6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19  SNC Day -The galleries will be open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.   Making activities include Make a Moth and Design a Plantbot.  Plantbot Genetics duo, Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki, will also be in the gallery to answer questions about their work, The Moth Project residency, and the exhibition from 10-11 a.m and 2-3 p.m.