Rhonda Dass creates cloud-like artwork

Rhonda Dass’ featured exhibition “Tangible Transformation: Change in Interchangeable Times” is now on display in the Central Student Union art gallery at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The gallery includes oil painting, classic pen and pencil drawings, and a growing artwork in the middle of it all that students, staff, and visitors can add too.  

Dass explained the pieces that are in the gallery have been in progress since the start of the pandemic.

“All of the pieces that are in the display are from what I call my COVID period. They were created over the last two years, during the pandemic, and were things that brought me joy during that time,” shared Dass. “[The pieces] were something to distract me.” 

In order to turn the everyday into precious artworks, Dass drew inspiration from a couple of art styles in Asia. They explained how they took an art class on Islamic arts helped inspire their pieces. Another piece in the collection was inspired came from looking at how far eastern art from China traveled along the Silk Road. 

“I saw this beautiful morning sky where the clouds looked bruised. It sparks something in me, and I can’t get over it until I get it out and down either on paper or on canvas,” said Dass. “This stylized kind of image of clouds came out of China, and I took that technique and kind of morphed it into a tattooing kind of style.” 

Of the pieces they created for this gallery, Dass loved so many of them. However, their favorites include the largest drawing they’ve ever done, which is displayed on one wall, and an interactive cloud art piece.

“Even though it was a struggle to get it out there, it made that piece more precious to me. I think the Cloudscape that I created out of student papers is probably my favorite,” Dass stated.  

Dass took student papers, shredded them, and repurposed them into new material that is available for the interactive part of the gallery. The recycled paper was then cut into cloud shapes that gallery visitors can write or doodle on. The papers will be part of the piece hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room. 

Art is an eternal passion of Dass’, and they said that it keeps them sane.

“It is the part of my brain that functions no matter what is going on with the rest of me,” said Dass. “It’s always there. It’s my best friend.” 

Dass also compared showcasing their art as, ‘sending a child out into the world.’

“You hope people will be kind to it, but you also expect them to teach it something to mold it in its own way,” said Dass. 

Dass hopes people gain from the gallery is to appreciate the artwork which depicts the gorgeous side of nature. 

“Especially with these pieces, it’s about finding beauty in the everyday. Things that we may not think are precious can turn out to be very precious and very beautiful.” 

The gallery in the CSU is open to the public during building hours and will be displayed until Mar. 25.

Header Photo: One of Rhonda Dass’ interactive artworks includes shredded student papers that have been transformed into clouds. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to: Lilly Schmidt at lillian.schmidt@mnsu.edu

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