Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On ARTour: A peek inside Kip O’Krongly’s studio & art October 25, 2013

Cerarmic artist's Kip O'Krongly's second floor studio.

Ceramic artist Kip O’Krongly’s second floor studio.

HER ART STUDIO POSSESSES an almost industrial, spartan look. Clean lines. Tidy. Labels. Schedules. Everything just so.

Supplies and tools, all in their place.

Supplies and tools, all in their place.

Kip O’Krongly freely admits to her need for orderliness in the second floor ceramics studio of her Northfield home.

Gertie rises from her spot beneath the windows.

Gertie rises from her spot beneath the windows.

Here, in this slanted ceiling room with the tile floor she laid and with sunlight streaming in, Kip’s dog, Gertie, rests briefly on a blue and green plaid blanket below double windows. A short respite from visitors, like me, who have filtered into Kip’s studio and home during the South Central Minnesota Studio ARTour.

During this (last) weekend open house, I am visiting the studios of select artists I have not seen on past tours.

Cows also grace one of Kip's plates.

Art Kip creates on her ceramic plates sometimes makes statements about social issues, like the piece on the right.

I am drawn to Kip’s place by the tractors, wind turbines and corn I’ve seen showcased online on her ceramics.

Definitely a transportation themed piece going here.

Definitely a transportation themed piece going here.

She tells me that themes of food, transportation and energy run through her work. Once she points that out, I ask whether she was raised on a farm. No. Alaska.

We don’t get into details about the themes, but I mention that I grew up on the southwestern Minnesota prairie and am visually troubled by the wind turbines that populate the landscape, ruining, in my opinion, the aesthetics of the prairie.

More than tractors and corn...

More than tractors and corn… Corn grows from oil rigs.

Kip says she welcomes how her art opens up dialogue and the opportunity to hear differing opinions on social issues. And I sense her sincerity in stating that.

The door opens into Kip's studio.

The door opens into Kip’s studio.

I am intrigued, too, by her name. Kip O’Krongly. It possess a certain snap, a certain strength, a certain ruggedness. I never ask. But I don’t need to. Her work, talent and confidence as an artist define Kip O’Krongly.

FYI: The works of two other ceramics artists, Joel Froehle and Juliane Shibata, were also showcased in Kip’s home. However, they were not in-house when I visited.

Please click here and then here to read previous posts from the South Central Minnesota Studio ARTour. And check back for more posts in this five-part series.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling