UND faculty, alums set tone in ‘The Bakken Boom!’ exhibit at Plains Art Museum in Fargo

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College of Arts & Sciences


Faculty and alumni of the University of North Dakota College of Arts and Sciences are taking center stage in a recently-opened exhibit titled “The Bakken Boom!” at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo.

The show brings together national and local artists to explore the impact of the Bakken oil boom on North Dakota. The works in the Bakken Boom! exhibit emphasizes the dynamic intersection between the people living in the Bakken, the work they do and the impact of the oil industry on North Dakota communities, landscapes and history.

UND artist Ryan Stander (masters of fine arts, 2011) contributed one of the more striking images: a massive, cut-up print of the Casselton, N.D., train explosion.

"My work explores the idea of the obscured and deconstructed bits of information residents receive,” Stander said. “The segments of an appropriated image of the Casselton train explosion draw our attention to the missing information that viewers must fill in for themselves.

Another UND artists, Jess Christy (MFA 2011), also features prominently in the show with a series of 150 boxes containing objects from her everyday life in Minot.

Each box, she says, is "representative of an experience of my life as a woman living in the Bakken Oil Patch."

The exhibition includes work by UND Professor of Art Kim Fink, and one of the last works of late UND Associate Professor Joel Jonientz (Department of Arts and Design). Joneintz produced a hand-tinted print in the style of Honoré Daumier for last spring's exhibition of newly acquired Daumier prints by UND Art Collections. The work shows an elderly couple looking back on a mound of RVs, trucks and drilling equipment surrounded by roughnecks. Its caption reads, "Chérie, tu vois quelque chose de nouveau ici? (My dear, do you see anything new here?).”

Finally, the North Dakota Man Camp Project (NDMCP) directed by William Caraher (Department of History) and Bret Weber (Department of Social Work) features two artists who have been collaborators on this project: Philadelphia based photographer Kyle Cassidy, and John Holmgren. Cassidy contributed a series of portraits of individuals in the oil patch that emphasized their humanity and dignity amid the challenging work and housing in the patch. Holmgren produced a series of mixed-media prints that juxtaposed images of oil pumps, drawings and photos of workforce housing and NDMCP inventory forms that bridges the gap between the project's research, life and work in the Bakken.

"This is a great example of the tremendous influence UND has had on how we are thinking about, understand and imagine the Bakken,” Caraher said. “This is not simply a matter of being at the right place, at the right time. UND and the College of Arts and Sciences created a space where dialogue about the Bakken was encouraged, enhanced and supported.

“The strong presence of UND alumni, faculty and projects at the Bakken Boom! exhibit is a testimony to the commitment of the college and University to shaping the future of the state."

The Bakken Boom! Exhibit at the Plains Art Museum runs through August 15, 2015.