South Dakota Art Museum displays creative mind of Jason Lanka

IAN LACK Lifestyles Reporter

Far off in the distance of a barren field, a man struggles walking under the enormous load of an intricately-constructed, wing-like sculpture spanning over twenty feet across.

This image is created for viewers by photographs, sounds and sculptures in an exhibit on display in the South Dakota Art Museum.

Jason Lanka, the artist, is a professor running the sculpture program at Sheridan College in Wyoming.

The exhibit was introduced March 1 and includes steel sculptures of deer, photos of an active sculpture in the Midwestern landscape, videography and sculptures created by the artist. Lanka said these mediums have allowed him the opportunity to be able to explore subjects and themes in various ways.

“Each piece I create is almost the product of a question,” Lanka said. “My work is based on really finding these points of intersection where I find my place within the environment, the environment in the broad sense, the place where I live. So, the work is an exploration of how I work through the question of awareness.”

Lanka said the environment is just one theme among others he explored in the work that is now on display.

Among the pieces on display, four have never been seen before. Lanka says his work takes anywhere from three months to one year to create.

Two of the pieces on display were designed to be worn and include visual and sound elements to enhance viewing experience. Lanka says he takes inspiration for his work from artists Matthew Barney, Robert Smithson, Richard Serra and the written work of Barry Lopez.

“I think they’re all artists that also focus on the conceptual question, so the output, their art, is simply a reflection of how they’re trying to communicate that question to the viewer,” Lanka said. “They’re focusing on the dialogue, not just an object.”

Lanka said he did research on the South Dakota Art Museum and admired the space where his art would be displayed. One of his creations on display takes up the majority of the space given to him. Lanka said he also enjoyed previous exhibitions shown there.

His work has been on display at multiple universities across the country including those in Minnesota, Virginia, Georgia, Hawaii and within the President’s Collection at the College of William and Mary.

Lanka said he remains interested in selling his work but is focused on pursuing a dialogue with viewers about the issues he presents through them.

“I hope that the viewer will look at the work there and it allows them to apply it their own lives, the questions that I’m asking in the work,” Lanka said. “I hope viewers ask questions of themselves, and if I can ask them those questions through it and impact them in that way, then I think that’s a success.”

Full details on Lanka’s work can be found on his website, His work is set to be on display at the museum until July 10.