2011/12 McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

2011/12 McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and the McKnight Foundation are proud to present an exhibition of new work by the recipients of the 2011/12 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists: Christine Baeumler, Liz Miller, Elizabeth Simonson, and Marcus Young.

The exhibition opens on Friday, July 13, with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. An online catalog with text by Mary Jane Jacob, professor of sculpture and executive director of exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, accompanies the exhibition and is available for download as a PDF or print-on-demand.


Christine Baeumler, a public environmental artist, explores the power of art to increase awareness of environmental issues and to facilitate action. By portraying places remote from our daily experiences, yet impacted ecologically by our actions, the work offers a glimpse into these compelling, fragile, and often invisible worlds. Her most recent project, Reconstituting the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration, has been a twelve-month collaboration with Kurt Leuthold, vice-president and principal, and Fred Rozumalski, ecologist, both of Barr Engineering. They have created a bog ecosystem above the entryway to MCAD that both calls attention to these unique ecosystems and presents an artistic re-imagining of green-roof infrastructure. The project is also meant to remind residents of how we might “reconstitute” the landscape by capturing water where it drops.

Liz Miller’s large-scale mixed-media installations are reaching new heights in her new work, Imperious Decorum. She will be creating a dramatic sculptural installation that occupies twenty-six vertical feet, allowing viewers to interact with the work from various vantage points of the multilevel gallery. Miller’s work references a diverse array of visual imagery, ranging from costumes, pageantry, patterns, and ornaments to weapons and military uniforms. Forging relationships between these benign and malignant forms confuses the original implications of each. In this manner, Miller highlights the precariousness of perception while creating a fascinating hybrid sculptural reality.

Elizabeth Simonson pushes the beauty of repetition and imperfection to material limits in her site-specific installations. She will engage the spacious, four-story light well in the MCAD Gallery by filling it with numerous pod-like units of wire and beads whose shapes and patterns are based on forms in sacred geometry. Acting like cells, they will be attached and suspended throughout the space to create an extremely complex yet symmetrical three-dimensional matrix. Within that matrix, another pattern of beads will follow an asymmetrical path, underscoring the flaws and randomness inherent in systems of all types.

Marcus Young, whose practice of behavioral art integrates personal and collective experience played out in social spaces, will be presenting I’m looking for love, so let’s fix the system. The work expresses his simple hope of improving his life through finding love and de-cluttering his home. He is parting with furniture and furnishings he has grown attached to but no longer needs. Through advertisements on Craigslist, he will invite interested buyers to view and purchase his belongings in the gallery, a hybrid marketplace. Young will also post excerpts of his personal ads on the gallery walls next to his Craigslist ads, in the hopes of finding Mr. Right. With this exhibition, he wonders about love and attachment to objects, loneliness and home design, pricing and letting go, and the function of the gallery in contemporary art practice. He will be available in the gallery once a week and by special appointment to meet anyone interested in the project. 


The fellowship year began in May of 2011 when a panel of national arts professionals selected these mid-career Minnesota artists as McKnight fellows out of 224 applicants. The jurors were Tumelo Mosaka, curator of contemporary art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Colleen Sheehy, director of the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota; and Kay WalkingStick, a New York City-based artist and professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Over the past year, the fellows have had the opportunity to participate in one-on-one professional development meetings and to meet with three visiting critics: Mary Jane Jacob, professor of sculpture and executive director of exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Cathy Lebowitz, arts writer and senior editor at Art in America; and Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the Queens Museum of Art.

ABOUT THE McKNIGHT ARTIST FELLOWSHIPS The McKnight Artist Fellowship program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Established in 1981, the fellowship program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in twelve areas, totaling nearly $1 million each year. Arts organizations oversee the administration of the fellowships and structure their own programs to respond to the unique opportunities and challenges of different creative disciplines.

ABOUT THE McKNIGHT FOUNDATION The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grant-making, coalition-building, and the encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based foundation had assets of approximately $1.9 billion and granted about $91 million in 2011.

Image credits:

Christine Baeumler, in collaboration with Kurt Leuthold, Barr engineer, and Fred Rozumalski, Barr ecologist

Reconstituting the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration, entryway to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2012. Photo: Rik Sferra.

The project has been made possible through the support of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and grants from the McKnight Foundation, the Smaby Family Foundation, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, with additional support from Barr Engineering Company, AMBE LTD, Prairie Restorations, Inc., Boreal Natives, and Sela Roofing.

Christine Baeumler

Spectral Tamaracks, video still, 2012. Video-editing assistance: Amy Waksmonski. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Double-Crested Cormorant, from The Birds of Bogs and Wetlands series, photo litho, oil and enamel paint on aluminum panel, 30" x 40", 2012. Lithography assistance: Paula Marty. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Liz Miller

Preposterous Cavalcade, stiffened felt and other mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view: Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2011.

Picturesque Evacuation Ploy, stiffened felt and other mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view: Redux Contemporary Art Center, Charleston, South Carolina, 2011. Photo: Shannon Di.

Recalcitrant Mimesis, stiffened felt and other mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view: David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, 2012. Photo: Paul Winner.

Elizabeth Simonson

Current, music wire, 5 ' x 33' x 2'. Installation view: Plane Space, New York City, 2004.

Skipping Stones, tape on wall, 8' x 40' x 1'. Installation view: Gallery One at TractorWorks, Minneapolis, 2011. Photo: Rik Sferra.

Instar (detail), beads, wire, and fishing line, 25' x 11' x 15' (approximately). Installation view: Walker Art Center. Commissioned by Walker Art Center, courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis, 2011. Photo: Gene Pittman, courtesy of the Walker Art Center.

Marcus Young

Don’t you feel it too? is the practice of freeing your spirit through dancing your inner life in public places. It is purposeful self-embarrassment, mind-body study, gentle protest, do-it-yourself public performance, and aspiring spiritual technology. This ongoing practice premiered on the streets of St. Paul during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Photo: Zoe Prinds-Flash.

Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk re-imagines St. Paul’s annual sidewalk maintenance program by integrating poetry into the Department of Public Works’ standard system of replacing broken sidewalks. Since 2008, the program has created 480 installations of a growing collection of 36 poems. Poem: Pat Owen. Photo: Mike Hazard.

With nothing to give, I give myself is a behavioral form of living in a museum. The practice is to give one’s most precious possession—life—temporarily to the art collection, to be present around the clock, and to sit, walk, work, and be in silent retreat. Premiered at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011. Photo: Amanda Hankerson.

The Lullaby Experiment invites people to explore together the soft mystery of slumber while being sung to lovingly through the night. Within a live pianissimo concert of love, the ritual is a striving for peace and rest, a remembrance of affection, and a submission to one’s inner nature. Premiered at the Walker Art Center, 2011. Photo: Travis Spangler.

McKnight Artist Fellowships 30 Year Anniversary

McKnight Artist Fellowships 30 Year Anniversary

The Lullaby Experiment by Marcus Young

Marcus Young, The Lullaby Experiment.

Skipping Stones by Elizabeth Simonson

Elizabeth Simonson, Skipping Stones.


Double-Crested Cormorant, from The Birds of Bogs and Wetlands series by Christine Baeumler

Christine Baeumler, Double-Crested Cormorant from The Birds of Bogs and Wetlands series.

Exhibition - Photo by Rik Sferra

Exhibition - Photo by Rik Sferra