A work of art

Artist-in-residence focuses on trauma in her work

A doorstopper is all the artist-in-residence needs to maintain an open-door policy for Paige Mostowy’s duration on campus at the Ritz Gallery in Grove Hall.

Mostowy is the first Stuart Artist-in-Residence. With this title, she is given a space to transform into an exhibit. Her term of residency is Sept. 21 to Oct. 16.

“Part of the vision was having an artist to be on campus for a period of time,” said Scott Wallace, a professor in the fine arts program in the School of Design. “We have visiting artists that come for a day, but to have an artist that is here for an extended period of time so students can see an on-going process.”

The Stuart Artist-in-Residence is a program funded by Joseph and Signe Stuart. Signe previously taught art at SDSU and Joseph used to be the Director of the South Dakota Art Museum. According to Wallace, the Stuarts tasked a committee of three faculty, one student and one community representative to find an artist that none of the faculty was connected to and “was outside of the immediate region.”

The committee advertised a variety of ways and had 57 applicants.

“We were really looking for an artist who dealt with ideas and concepts and could communicate that while they were on campus. The committee felt that our students were exposed to a lot of processes,” Wallace said. “Process is part of art; they like to learn process, they like to practice it, but I think we feel … that our students need to have a better background in how to express ideas and develop a series of work based on their ideas.”

According to Mostowy, a concept or idea that she uses in her work is trauma, such as divorces and death. She is also interested in preservation and repair.

“I’m thinking about preservation as well as coverings. I guess, how we repair things, how we repair ourselves or how we preserve ourselves and then sometimes how that is a little more damaging than helpful,” Mostowy said. She conveys this idea through the use of found objects in the form of old furniture.

Mostowy identifies as a sculpture artist and to create her sculptures she uses tissue paper, coffee and wood glue. The tissue paper and wood glue are used to create the shape of the object and the coffee is to deepen the color of the object.

One staple object in Mostowy’s work is chairs. “I see chairs as representative of people,” Mostowy said. “So if you all have a place at the dinner table and someone is missing, it’s like a void… so I’m always looking for chairs.”

Mostowy uses objects that are intact, but she refrains from using furniture or objects that are plastic or are made from synthetic materials. “It’s interesting when you find something already broken and how do you get past that… [It’s] something that’s been cherished and is now discarded.”

According to Wallace, having an artist on-campus for an extended period of time allows students to see an exhibit come to life in front of their eyes.

“It’s important that even if it’s not in your major, you experience diverse activities and you know and this they can actually come in during the open studio hours and ask questions and that might help them gain a greater understanding for what happens in the visual arts world,” Wallace said.

While Mostowy is on campus, her door is open for people to stop in and ask her questions during her gallery hours.

“Tell me stories,” Mostowy said. “I love that because I find you can only ever speak from your perspective, but then when you hear a story of somebody or you hear an insider perspective, it sort of becomes your own, not fully, but in a way where it’s a secondhand story telling that I’m interested in as well.”