We drove through Madison, WI, saw family and did up the acclaimed Farmer’s Market. We then headed towards Reedsburg and The Woolen Mill Gallery for the show’s last hours of its last day. We will be heading north eventually to the Twin Cities via Decorah, IA and the Seed Savers Exchange.
I would like to share my words written for the exhibition as it lays some groundwork for works and artists chosen.
As with anything of depth, Women in Grains has unfolded over time. Working with the theme of agriculture and corn specifically for over a decade, I have been attracted to artists of similar sensibilities. Since the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars I have witnessed and participated in a “back to the hand” movement of making. I truly believe that the zeitgeist of war times causes people to use their hands more… a sort of collective hand wringing of sorts.
With the “back to the hand” movement also came the classic “back to the land” movement. We humans, in this industrialized society, long for connections to the land. Some of that longing is exhibited with the explosion of growing our own food, community gardens, backyard poultry in urban areas, and a willingness to create connections to those who grow our food. We are in need and dare I say thirst to be grounded in this crazy world.
In as much as artists mirror society, and at times lead society, and consider the making of art defined with a wider brush beyond the making of objects, many artists in Women in Grains have sought those deeper connections through the lens of the grain. I recognized something big is happening at my pivotal discussions with Sarah Kavage of Seattle. Her “Industrial Wheat Project” along with Ann Belden’s “Bushel” piece in Oregon, Il in 2008 sealed the concept for this show. When I approached Donna Nuewirth of Wormfarm Institute and Woolen Mill Gallery last summer during my Food Feed Fuel solo exhibition I was thrilled to have received a call over winter asking if I was still interested.
It is my great pleasure to introduce to you 16 artists reflecting a connection based on grains, from coast to coast. We have an artist from Maine who is also a farmer, Abby Sadauckas. A shared connection with performance artist Sarah Aubry and her alter ego and burlesque character “Maizy” who strips to call attention to genetically modified grains. Now Sarah, as a mother, is looking towards sustaining her family in ways connecting to solar energy and baking. We have several artists with deep agrarian roots one of whom has incorporated family ledgers and equipment from her childhood farm in Minnesota, Corinne Peterson. Several artists included in the show I have met on my annual residency in Oregon, IL called The Fields Project including Ann Belden, Carole Hennessy, and Astra Price. Several others are in my immediate surroundings here in Chicago whether I share studio space at Lillstreet Art Center with them, Jiyeon Yim, Abi Gonzales, Lisa Harris, Corrine Peterson, or share a wider Chicago area space with them such as Gina Hutchings, Stephanie Samuels, Marj Woodruff, or Barbara Koenen.
This is a formidable group of artists, agitators, and connectors with a shared passion of grains, the Midwest landscape, and food systems.
Please put your grain lenses on to embrace corn, wheat, rice and life.
In alphabetical order below you will find works or links to websites of the participating artists. Before I share works, I would like to thank a bunch of amazing people. Firstly to Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas for lending the space at Woolen Mill Gallery. Thanks for the faith. Thanks to Katie Schofield artist liaison for Wormfarm for your assistance with a 1,000 things. Thanks to all of the individuals that took works from here to there and sometimes back including beautiful, freshly milled flour in 50 lb bags for Sarah Kavage’s piece. Thanks for sharing relics or “curiosities” from the Brinkmeier farm. Thanks to husband Paul for the wonderful beer to celebrate Women in Grains.
Thanks finally to an amazing group of talented artists that made this show something special in content, thought, and execution. The lasting relationships formed have been a joy to watch unfold.