Putting it all out there


Juan Pedraza

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Putting it all out there

A North Dakota country moment inspired UND student artist Emmylou Landeis to paint an unusual portrait: a lone, "hard rode" cowboy boot.

She sold that painting recently in her first real-world art show at the "World's Smallest Gallery", located in the groovy café setting of the Urban Stampede in Grand Forks. The show included the work of several other University of North Dakota art students.

It was Emily's first taste of the world of public exhibitions, a move encouraged by her teacher, UND art faculty member Nishiki Tayui.

"I was very excited about this opportunity," said Landeis, a Mandan, N.D., native and third-year art major. "I was surprised and very excited about selling the painting that I'd put on exhibit at the Urban Stampede as part of this class—it was awesome!"

For Tayui, that sale was, indeed very cool. But selling art wasn't the main point of getting her students to put their works out there for the public.

She expected students to see that there's more to an exhibit than hanging their work on a wall.

"By showing their work publicly, it's not just about critique—'Oh, what a nice painting,'" Tayui said. "They had to think about the title of the work, whether they wanted to sell it or not, and if so, how much. That's a lot of details to think through."

The works by 11 students in Tayui's beginning painting classes were on display in the popular downtown Grand Forks café earlier this year.

Tayui, a native of the Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, has traveled the globe to build the artistic vision that she shares with her painting and drawing students. That vision also combines a varied work experience well beyond the brushes and oil paints she favors.

That potpourri of knowledge and experience gleaned across the globe encouraged Tayui to push her first- and second-year painting students at UND to stretch their boundaries -- not just their canvases.

"Academically, I want to give them a basis for expanding their artistic vision," said Tayui. "So, as part of the Painting 1 class, I encouraged them exhibit their work. That way they would learn about transferring what they're doing in class to the real-world art scene."

Tayui noted that once students understood that their work was going on public exhibit, their attitudes toward finishing their work changed—more energy, more focus, more thought about finishing their work to the best of their abilities.

For Haley Wolfe, a UND art major from Duluth, Minn., getting a chance to exhibit outside the University was inspirational.

"Our professor said we'd have the opportunity to put our work on public display downtown," said Wolfe, a bachelor's of fine arts major who focuses on oil painting on canvas. "I thought this would be really good practice before my senior year. And it was really enjoyable to participate in this exhibit."

The initiative also reinforced the idea that an 'Exceptional UND," in part, is dedicated to promoting development in downtown Grand Forks and increasing vitality through local partnerships.

"I view it as a very positive cooperative activity between the University and the community," said Tayui, a UND assistant professor of art who set up the novel exhibition opportunity for her students. "I met with Marlene Stiles, curator of the World's Smallest Art Gallery, and she was supportive for the idea of having my students' work at the gallery. We were very excited to have this show downtown. I find that this community is very open, very welcoming."

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