Minnesota-born artist featured in Conkling

Brett Kallusky, a Minnesota-born photographer currently teaching at UW River Falls, is hosting an exhibition in Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Conkling Gallery inside of Nelson Hall until October 29th. 

“I’d been invited to be a visiting artist by professor Areca Roe sometime pre pandemic, like spring of 2020, not to have an exhibition but just to come down and talk about my work,” said Kallusky. “Obviously COVID derailed this. I reached out to Areca this summer after the senior gallery exhibition about coming down to visit and she retorted by asking me if I wanted an exhibition. It was an unexpected but welcome offer.”

The exhibit didn’t take Kallusky very long to put together, “I’ve been working on this body of work for a long time and it’s in the process of being published in a book. It was a super quick turn around from the offer of the exhibition to getting the work on the wall.”

Kallusky’s exhibit is “Landfill: Elegy for the Santa Maria Valley”, which is also the name of the book his art will be published in. “The body of work is a prolonged look at a specific landfill in the Santa Maria Valley in California,” said Kallusky. “It frames how it relates to us as consumers and also to the environment as a whole and the impact that we have on it.” 

“I think environmental issues are becoming more and more pertinent; we look at the landscape as a way of reflecting our use of it and where we fit within it,” Kallusky elaborated on his subject. “For better or for worse I think right now it seems to be a really present topic regardless of where we’re from or our economic backgrounds or social-political beliefs. All of it is overcome by the realities of what we’re doing.”

Kallusky’s inspirations are atypical of many artists, he said. “A lot of artists will tend to look inward for their work, whereas for me what has always inspired me is looking outward and interacting with the world in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do otherwise.”

“Part of my practice,” he noted, ”is to push myself outside of what I would consider to be a comfort zone or a place where I feel like I know what I’m doing, to really be open to the idea of exploration and failure. At the end of the day I think that’s probably why this project has taken so long, because I work really slowly as an artist. I don’t have a quick turnaround time; I’m very methodical and slow and I like to sit with things for a long time. I think my inspiration comes from that meditative quality of contemplating what I’m looking at.”

Kallusky’s exhibition, appearing as a carefully constructed stream of consciousness along the Conkling Gallery walls, tells the story of the connections between us, and the landscape. It can be visited from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 30.

Header Photo: Landfill: Elegy for the Santa Maria Valley by Brett Kallusky in Conkling Gallery in Nelson Hall. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

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