Governor’s 9th Biennial art exhibit highlights South Dakota artists


Gracie Terrall, News Editor (She/her)

The South Dakota Governor’s 9th Biennial art exhibition has kicked off its yearlong tour at the South Dakota Art Museum (SDAM), which features artwork from artists around the state.

“All other shows come from a different place of meaning or reason, but [the Biennial] is really all about artists in this state,” Jodi Lundgren, the SDAM exhibition curator, said.

The exhibit launched March 19 and will run at South Dakota State University until June 13. This year, 66 artists were selected by a panel of jurors from across the state.

Lundgren was the SDAM’s juror for this year’s exhibit. The rest of the jurors are from the other participating South Dakota galleries. A juried system is used to ensure the highest level of quality and diversity amongst the works, Lundgren said.

Lundgren stressed that the entries for the Biennial do not all center around South Dakota life, but rather a variety of mediums like painted canvas, pottery and even plastic cans wrapped in grass.

“You see a lot of interest in the land amongst us South Dakota artists, but we also have some more urban, contemporary interiors,” Lundgren said.

Diana Behl, an SDSU art professor, had her piece, “in fig. (e),” selected for this year’s Biennial. Behl specializes in print design and created her print by using a transfer relief method on Kitakata paper.

She creates images that are transferred onto different materials like copper, linoleum and wood which are then layered, cut and distorted, according to Behl’s biography in the 9th Biennial’s artist catalog.

Behl has been creating art professionally since 2000 and has been involved in multiple Biennial exhibits.

“I enjoy having the opportunity to share art with the campus and Brookings community and seeing what other artists in the state are making,” Behl said when asked about the Biennial event.

After the exhibition leaves the SDAM in June, it will travel to the Washington Pavillion in Sioux Falls for the remainder of the summer and into fall. The John A. Day Gallery in Vermillion will host the show in the fall, with the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City hosting until March 2022.

Contrary to the exhibit’s name, the Governor’s Biennial art show has little to do with the sitting governor of South Dakota.

When the Biennial was launched in 2003, the showrunners decided to have the exhibit endorsed by the governor to signify the importance of visual arts in the state. Typically, the governor writes a letter of approval that is featured in the Biennial catalog.

“Each Biennial exhibition is a chance to celebrate the talented artists who call South Dakota home,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in her letter. “Our state has a unique cultural heritage and history, and one of the best ways to learn about this history is through our exhibitors’ artwork.”

Normally, there is a reception event for the artists and the public to view the works and hear from the artists about their experience with creating their works. To replicate that, the SDAM is hosting weekly cocktail hour live chats with 30 of this year’s artists.

These live sessions are every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and will run until June 8.

“You can bring your own glass of wine, just like at the reception, and chat with artists,” Lundgren said. “Nothing is better than hearing an artist talk about their own work. You really get a sense of humanity coming though.”