Conkling exhibit features faculty works

Faculty of the art department at Minnesota State University, Mankato have kicked off the Conkling Art Exhibit series with “Faculty Fall ‘21 Exhibition.” 

The exhibit includes a wide variety of mediums including ceramics, graphic designs, and sculptures. 

“This really shows a showcase of how committed each one of my colleagues are as an educator and as a researcher,” said Mika Laidlaw, a ceramics faculty member and one of the artists featured in the exhibit.

The exhibit consists of works across an array of mediums by faculty members Laidlaw, Pocket Toscani, Gina Wenger, Josh Winkler, Bradley Coulter, Calee Cecconi, and Ellen Schofield. 

“I feel like our undergraduates because they have that breadth of experience — not just what they’re seeing out in the art world, but in their classrooms — that they get that advantage,” said Gina Wenger, art education faculty member and department chair.  

Wenger also gave insight on her installation titled “Mourning.” 

“In my own home I make these little memorials for people that I’ve lost in my life or things I want to remember,” she said. “So I’ll take things that I have that remind me of them and I’ll put them together in small spaces. And so I decided last year to take a quilt I was working on and stitch my grandma’s portrait onto it.” 

All of the elements of the installation were objects she made with family. Wenger also added an audio recording to the installation of her reading stories she was fond of during childhood. 

Toscani, a faculty member who specializes in sculpture, took a different approach to the materials normally used in that medium. 

“All of them (sculptures) have found objects or found material in them that I reuse,” they said. 

Some of these reused materials include plastic serving trays and mattress parts. For Toscani, their art is about using space. Toscani has three sculptures in the exhibit, all with unique aesthetics. 

They commented, “I’m always trying to surprise myself, ya know? Like, what else can I do?” 

Laidlaw said she had specific inspirations with her work from plant seeds to COVID-19. Her preferred medium is ceramics, but she also found ways to incorporate nature into her work. 

Laidlaw sculpted vases and said, “They were based on bones, and the bones symbolise people that passed that I miss.” 

In these vases she practiced ikibana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. She stated, “The plants are us. The ones that are alive.” 

The faculty exhibit will be open until Sept. 28 with the closing exhibition taking place on the last day from 7-9 p.m. 

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