August 15 – December 10, 2023
Opening Reception is Thursday, August 17, at 5:30 pm.
“From micro artworks the size of your hand to mammoth, room-sized installations, the diverse roster of women artists in A Beautiful Mess: Weavers & Knotters of the Vanguard twist, tie and braid tactile, utilitarian materials to push the boundaries of fiber art and elevate the traditional status of weaving, knotting, and macramé. The eleven artists in this exhibition transform rope, yarn, clay, wire, and extension cords into wall hangings and sculptures that range from minimal and hyper-organized to expansive, organic installations. Mining a lifetime of experiences, the artists explore personal and political ideals and freely break the rules to create works that make a strong cultural and intellectual impact.
While the media and means of production vary tremendously for each artist in A Beautiful Mess, they find commonality in their pursuit to upend the status quo. By bringing their unique stories to the forefront, the artists draw from potent source material to create sculptures and installations staggering in beauty and conceptual underpinnings. These works tell profoundly personal and powerful histories, not only about the artist, but about the traditions and norms we honor and those that need to be addressed and eradicated. The artists confront uncomfortable issues like racism, sexism, patriarchal systems, and climate change. They also reveal the brilliance of the natural world, the richness of tradition, and the power of self-acceptance, all while demonstrating extraordinary technical skill.
A Beautiful Mess also taps into the fiber arts renaissance currently taking place in the contemporary art world. Historically considered craft, weaving, knotting, and macramé are often more approachable and relatable, opening the door to a broader, more inclusive audience and removing barriers for art appreciation. This unique accessibility has inspired many to collect fiber and textile art and explore their creative nature. Through relentless creativity and reinvention, the artists in A Beautiful Mess take the art form to new heights conceptually and physically, building on a massive scale. The resulting works are visually stunning, command attention, and offer an opportunity to reflect on the stories woven into each piece.
In many ways, A Beautiful Mess is a perfect antidote to our rushed daily lives. Our diminished attention spans and demand for instant gratification have left little space for creativity or time to think beyond the immediate. The pandemic has compounded many unhealthy habits and exposed the controlled chaos of our society. In stark contrast, the work in this exhibition takes time and a tremendous amount of patience and imagination to make. While some of the artworks may seem disordered, the audience is encouraged to slow down and appreciate these handmade works for all their intricacies and hidden meanings.
As artist Kira Dominguez Hultgren puts it, “weaving is about strange combinations.” Whether by utilizing non-traditional materials, tapping into personal histories to untangle imperialist and colonial legacies, or using the physical process of making as a means to map emotion, these artists have revolutionized a previously marginalized genre. We honor and celebrate the work of the contemporary women artists in A Beautiful Mess who have radicalized the medium from varying perspectives, producing spectacular, thought-provoking artworks.”
– Emilee Enders, Curator of Exhibitions and Programs
Windy Chien, Circuit Board, 2021.
Rope, vintage 24k gold Japanese thread, synthetic Chainette yarn, 58 x 96 x 2.5 inches.
Kirsten Hassenfeld, Millefleur, 2019.
Salvaged textiles with mixed media, 78 inches diameter.
dani lopez, tell me that love isn’t true, 2019.
Handwoven cotton and hand-cut novelty fabrics, 88 x 36 x 3 inches.
$500 and above
$100 and above
Anna & Bernhardt Arnar
Nicole & Adam Derenne
Joan & Dennis Johnson
August 15 – November 13, 2023
An exhibition in honor of Frank Sampson’s forthcoming catalog.
Inspired by a love of story-telling and a fascination with animals and art history, Frank Sampson has built a career that has reached a pinnacle in the art community. Sampson, 96, a native of rural Edmore who lives in Boulder, Colo., has earned a reputation as one of the most esteemed artists in that state. His work has been shown in numerous art galleries nationwide, including the U.S. Library of Congress and in Belgium, Brazil, and Tokyo. Sampson taught painting, printmaking, and drawing at the University of Colorado for twenty-nine years until he retired in 1990. His artwork is whimsical and often involves a story or relationship.
“In general, I like a sense of mystery, almost a little surreal,” he said. Animals figure prominently in his paintings — sometimes appearing as fantastical human-like figures — which he attributes to his early experience on his family’s farm. “I was very attracted to animals from the beginning, more than some people perhaps,” he said. “I enjoyed them, and I participated with them in the sense of taking care of the pigs now and then, milking the cows and gathering eggs from the chickens. “I found them beautiful in a strange way, and when I went off to college, I took art, and before too long, I realized that animals appealed to me a lot, and, in my subconscious, they came forward and influenced quite a bit of the subject matter,” he said.
In the summer of 2019, the North Dakota Museum of Art launched a career retrospective of Sampson’s work. Over sixty paintings capture his mother’s fantastical stories of the circus coming to town, biblical tales, and mythological creatures to entertain Sampson and his five brothers. After the exhibition closed, Sampson donated all of the paintings to the Museum, as it was important that a bulk of his work remained in his home state.
This fall, the Museum will release a publication of his life’s work titled Land of Heart’s Desire: The Magic Realism of Frank Sampson, a 134-page, 9 x 9″ hardcover catalog detailing his work from the 1950s to the present.
Frank Sampson, Swan Song, 2006.
Oil, acrylic, gator board.
Gift from the artist.
Land of Heart’s Desire: The Magic Realism of Frank Sampson, 2023.
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Museum Directors make lifelong friends. Museum Director Laurel Reuter has made many close friends in her 50-year career. One friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, has taken a particular interest in the Permanent Collection, believing rich collections of art deeply enrich communities.
MUSEUM ANNOUNCES MAJOR GIFT; OVER 130 MASKS, SCULPTURE, TERRACOTTA, STAFFS, AND FURNITURE, INCLUDING 47 POTS FROM TOM MCNEMAR.
Tom McNemar was at the British Museum in London researching his dissertation topic when his life became waylaid by cases of African art.
I have made photographs in all 50 states; scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man — and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we’re on and the world we find ourselves in; where we’re at and who we are; what we’ve done; and, where we can go.
The landscape of South Dakota, remote, yet beautiful, has left its mark on Carol Hepper, a native of the state. It has elicited from her an extraordinarily poetic response in the form of a body of work that unites respect for the past and with a new means of expression.
The North Dakota Museum of Art will open Conservation Through Clay by Fargo-based artist Brad Bachmeier on Sunday, March 21. There will be no opening reception, but the artist will record a talk which the Museum will upload to YouTube and post on social media. The Museum will open weekdays 9 – 5 pm, and Sundays 12 – 5 pm, starting March 15, 2021.
The late Ed Kienholz and his deceased wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, the Factor’s one-time neighbors, are celebrated for their installations and sculptural assemblages that are controversial, graphic, and deeply critical of the politics of mid-twentieth century life in Europe and the United States.
We asked that you submit images of what you are doing to be creative in this time of social distancing, and you answered our call. We are honored to receive an outpouring of images coming from around the world.