2012/13 McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

2012/13 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 2012/13 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists: Jim Denomie of Shafer, MN, and Chris Larson, Ruben Nusz, and Natasha Pestich of the Twin Cities. 

The exhibition opens on Friday, June 14, with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. An online catalog with interviews and portraits by Phong Bui, publisher of The Brooklyn Rail, will accompany the exhibition and will be available for viewing as a PDF and iBook. The four McKnight fellows are also creating individual artist books that will be published by Location Books in early fall 2013.


Jim Denomie’s newest canvases continue to push the possibilities of serial portraiture and social satire, merging “hot button” cultural issues with the artist’s own personal iconography. One piece featured in the exhibition is The Creative Oven. The diptych, one of Denomie’s largest narrative pieces to date, wryly explores the creative process. The upper canvas represents the dream world where all artists go for their inspiration, while the lower panel represents the real world, where personal and professional obligations and distractions impede the artist's ability to get their head inside the creative oven.

Chris Larson will be installing some new work collectively titled Insecure Architecture, 2012-13. These miniaturized constructed architectural spaces are made from the cast-offs of other buildings and projects. Part of Larson’s studio method hinges on paying attention to things that are inadvertently being activated in the process of making something else. This most often occurs in the studio, but transpires in other spaces as well. Large forms become small as unforeseen physical and psychological transformations occur.

Employing what he calls “indirect abstraction,” Ruben Nusz will exhibit a series of paintings titled “Like a sword that cuts, but cannot cut itself; like an eye that sees but cannot see itself.” With this Taoist/Zen phrase as a backdrop, Nusz continues to investigate the relativistic qualities in the material by using a photographic color correction card (a stand in for objectivity) as a trope for creating—almost contradictorily termed—quasi-non-objective paintings. Through an installation process based on intuition and algorithm, the figure/ground concept in painting will come to echo the literal figure/ground relationship between the self and his/her surroundings.

Natasha Pestich examines the personal negotiation of publicly held ideals through the creation of fictional archives and site-based interventions. Her recent interest in the effects of institutional frameworks on cultural production has inspired her latest project, a collection of fictional narratives chronicling a Midwest art school’s assimilation of current trends in art, such as participatory art practices into their curricula and mission. For this exhibition, the artist will present one chapter of this project through a collection of posters, ephemera and artifacts detailing an incident that befalls a group of students immersed in their final project.

Catalog and individual artist books:

The fellowship year began in May of 2012 when a panel of national arts professionals selected these mid-career Minnesota artists as McKnight fellows out of 209 applicants. The selections were made by a panel of three arts professionals: Terry Adkins, an interdisciplinary artist and professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania; Craig Anderson, an independent art curator who most recently served as the executive director of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, an art historian, journalist, and art critic from the Los Angeles area.

Over the past year, the fellows have had the opportunity to meet with four visiting critics: Phong Bui, New York City-based artist, writer, and publisher; Fionn Meade, independent art curator and writer; and Dieter Roelstraete, senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. In July they will have their final studio visit with Naomi Beckwith, who is also a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. 

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.

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.

Recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to visual arts education, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is home to more than 700 students and offers professional certificates, bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of science degrees, and graduate degrees.



Jim Denomie, The Creative Oven, 2013, Image courtesy of Rik Sferra

Jim Denomie, The Creative Oven, 2013, Image courtesy of Rik Sferra.