The Art of Making Art

Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014 12:19 pm

In one month over the summer, the average person might get through a novel or two. Joe Engleman ’14 (pictured) wrote one. Both he and Gavin Warnock ’14, a physics/studio art major, were accepted to the Emerging Artist Residency at Grin City Collective.

Grin City sits on a 320-acre farm and in the summer invites nine college-level writers and visual or performance artists to a unique, subsidized artist residency specifically for undergraduates — Engleman and Warnock were undergrads when they applied.

The four-week residency culminates in a gallery show at the Grinnell Art Gallery.

Shared history

Engleman and Warnock were enrolled in the Collaborative Arts course taught by art professor Lee Running, English professor Dean Bakopoulos, and music professor John Rommereim in spring 2014, but didn’t get a chance to work with each other. They decided that in addition to the individual projects they intended to complete at the residency, they would collaborate on an art installation. “I was very interested in Joe’s motivations for his work,” says Warnock.

They were both interested in memory and what happens when you revisit shared experiences — specifically when it came to two Grinnellians telling stories about Grinnell. “The more we reminisce, the less true the memories are,” says Warnock.

The installation featured a filing cabinet with folders full of dozens of sheets of paper. At the front of each folder was a clear image that faded a little on each subsequent page. Visitors to the gallery are invited to take a picture from the front of a folder and shred it. By the end of the exhibition on July 31, only faded images or blank pages will remain.

More than art

Molly Rideout ’10, the residency coordinator and co-director of Grin City, is responsible for adding the goals of community enrichment and social commitment to the Emerging Artist Residency. One of the ways residents meet these goals is through working at Middle Way Farm, which Jordan Scheibel ’10 broke ground on two years ago.

In addition to helping the community, this work can help artists when they feel stuck. “When you do something that feels like it’s never done, like writing, it’s great to be able to look at the pile of weeds you’ve pulled or the basket full of beans you picked — something tangible,” says Engleman.

It’s remarkable how quickly nine artists from across the country formed a community — one based on passion and mutual interest. “I enjoy talking with artists about their work and motivations. To a large extent, it doesn’t matter what their content is as long as they’re passionate about it,” says Warnock.

Gavin Warnock ’14, a physics and studio art major from Perry, Iowa, is entering Grinnell’s ninth semester licensure program for teachers.
Joe Engleman ’14, a history major from Chicago, Ill., is pursuing his writing career.