Gusties; artist Ann Martin and collector Reverend Richard L. Hillstrom
The Hillstrom Museum of Art is currently housing two concurrent exhibits, How Things Are: Paintings by Ann Martin and The Eight, The Ashcan School, and the American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection. These two exhibits are on display until April 21. The pieces in How Things Are are also the inspiration for a series of dance performances being choreographed by the Dance Composition 2 class on campus.
The first exhibit are works by Ann Martin ‘68, a resident of Ireland who generally works in watercolor. Ann Martin, who has spent several informal residencies at Gustavus, features aspects of campus life, among other subjects. Martin, who attended Gustavus for several years starting in 1964 and then worked as a freelance courtroom artist in the early 1970s, moved to Ireland in 1984.
“In her work, Martin seeks deeper understanding of life, for herself, through the process of creating, and for her audience, through their apprehension of her watercolors” Director of the Hillstrom Museum of Art and Instructor in Art and Art History Don Myers ’83 said. “That is her preferred medium much of the time, partly because its portability allows her to observe and intermix with life as it occurs, recording her observations.”
“As Martin notes in her Artist’s Statement for the exhibition, ‘To understand How Things Are is to realize that one is deeply embedded in the lives of others,’” Myers said. “And her discussions with those she portrays have an impact on what she observes. She is primarily concerned with her own amazement at the unpredictability of life that is ‘acted out by players whose personal drama is endured with dignity and heroism.’ She observes the social condition of her subjects, and her works are filled with fascinating physical minutiae, details that support the observations that delight and astound her and that she wishes to share with her audience.”
“My inspiration for the pieces that are currently on display is the drive I have to understand people in places where I am instinctively afraid or critical,” Martin said. “My belief tells me that to survive there are no fixed answers, yet I balk and hesitate to connect in many unfamiliar situations. My art gives me courage and a means.”
“I hope that people leave the exhibit thinking about what they have witnessed. Perhaps it is the subject matter, but more importantly it is relationship that the creator has with the worked surface. It couldn’t happen without an intense dialogue between the artist and the task that has been set out to be accomplished,” Martin said.
The dance pieces being choreographed to Martin’s work will be performed in the Hillstrom Museum of Art on April 18 and April 20 at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively. Martin plans to return to campus for these performances and Myers hopes to arrange a gallery talk in the exhibition while Martin is on campus.
“We went in to look at Ann’s artwork and got to choose whatever piece we wanted as inspiration,” Sophomore Maggie Arndt said. “I chose Between Worlds. My piece is about identity through college, and the internal conflict between who you are and who you want to be.”
“I hope people think about themselves and their place in the world after seeing my piece. As a choreographer, you can’t always convey what you want to. It can make sense in your head, but other interpret it differently,” Arndt said.
The second exhibit in the Hillstrom Museum of Art is The Eight, the Ashcan School, and the American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection. This exhibit was chosen because it is related to Martin’s philosophy of art and Martin cites a number of the artists from these groups as influences. This collection features 39 works by 30 different artists.