MSUM Alumni art exhibition opening

By Samantha Stark

The School of Visual Arts held their 2014 MSUM Alumni Exhibition: “New Works” opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 4 to 6 p.m. in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts Gallery.

The exhibit showcases the works of 18 graduates from the MSUM art department (currently called The School of Visual Arts) which were completed in the past year.

“My favorite part of the exhibit was the variety of disciplines represented and the overall composition of the show,” said alumnus and artist J. David Berdahl.

This year’s exhibit was organized by Lauren Kinney, MSUM’s Gallery Director, with the help of the art department faculty and students.

“We have graduates from MSUM’s art department from 20 to 25 years ago up to really recent graduates like just last year,”  said Kenney.

All the graduates were recommended by The School of Visual Arts. Then invited the selected graduates that stayed locally or regionally, or returned to the N.D. and Minn. area, to display their work at the opening reception.  The selected artists must still be active in the art community.

“I invited everyone that was recommended to me and only half were able to participate,” she said.

The graduates had to submit work that was created in the past two years but has never  been displayed before in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts Gallery.

“From there it was up to them, if they wanted to try something new or bring in their best work,” she says.

Kinney gathered a vast array of graduates, from local visual teachers to museum coordinators to downtown bartenders. The exhibition features works by J. David Berdahl, Katelyn Bladel, Christopher Boedigheimer, Ellen Jean Diedercich, Kaylyn Gerenz, Amanda Heidt, Warren Kessler, Chelsea Lee, Nancy J. Leier, Sam Norman, Chelsea Odden, Jerica Olson, Kristen R. Perala, Keri Pickett, Lydia Rusch, Naomi RaMona Schliesman, Sarah Regan Snavely, and Brooke Stewart.

Many of the artists are large contributors to the art community around the FM area.

Berdahl presented two pieces rendered in graphite and is currently a visitor services representive at Plains Art Museum located at 704 1st Avenue North in Fargo. The museum currently contains approximately 3,000 works including national and regional contemporary art, traditional American Indian art, and traditional folk art.

Chelsea Lee presented ceramic cups and the Kimye Tapestry. Lee is also currently working at the Plains Art Museum.

Warren Keller presented two landscape paintings. In addition, he is represented at the Uptown Gallery in downtown Fargo.

The Uptown Gallery is a new gallery of fine and functional art, featuring exceptional two- and three-dimensional works by the region’s distinguished artists.

Naomi Schliemann presented two abstract wooden sculptures with additional natural elements and currently works as an Artist Development Coordinator at Springboard for the Arts in Fergus Falls.

Kaylyn Gerenz presented a fox-like-beast sculpture with nested heads of gapping jaws. She currently works at the Rourke Art Museum and has shown her work locally and nationally. Gerenz accepted a grant last year from the Lake Regions Art Council. LRAC is one of MN’s eleven regional arts councils.

“They brought a wide variety of art work. I like that there is a bunch of three- and two-dimensional pieces,” Kinney says.

They have done a couple of alumni shows in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts Gallery in the past but it’s not an annual event. Alumni exhibits are roughly down every four to five years.

“I think it’s good to have the alumni back and give the students a chance to see what graduates with the same degree are currently doing,” she says.

The MSUM Alumni Exhibition will be on view in the gallery through Oct. 8.

Gallery hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We are planning to have an awesome visiting artist show in December,” she said, “and two student shows after this exhibit.”

The two BA/BFA opening reception exhibits will be held on Oct. 16 and Nov. 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. The Visiting Artists: David Adams and Eleanor Richards exhibit will be presented from Nov. 24 to Dec. 18. The opening reception will be Dec. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.

For more information contact Kinney at or go to the Center for the Arts #161.

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