MY EXPOSURE TO PROFESSIONAL ART as a youth could be categorized as minimal. There were no visits to art galleries, no attending theatrical performances, no concerts outside of school walls.
Yet, I did not feel deprived, for art surrounded me in blazing prairie sunsets, an inky sky dotted with an infinity of stars, road ditches graced with wild roses, tall grass bending in the wind, the symphony of a howling blizzard, the crunch of boots on hard-packed snow, the orchestra of pulsating milking machines and munching cows and the radio voices of ‘CCO.
To this day, I credit my rural southwestern Minnesota upbringing for shaping me as a writer and photographer. There, on the stark prairie, within the confines of a close and loving family living off the land, I learned to appreciate the details in the landscape and life itself.
Today, I no longer live on my beloved prairie. And I have immediate access to the arts within my own community of Faribault and nearby. You won’t find me, except on rare occasions, aiming for the Twin Cities to view art. I am not a city girl.
The Weitz Center for Creativity at Third and College Streets in Northfield, Minnesota.
In late October, I discovered Weitz Center for Creativity, “a center for creativity and collaboration in the liberal arts,” on the campus of Carleton College in neighboring Northfield. The center is housed in the historic former and repurposed Northfield high school and middle school and in 30,000 additional square feet of new construction.
Near the entrance to the Weitz Center Commons area. (Photographed in October.)
The complex offers such creative spaces as a theater, dance studios, a technology resource center (the Gage/Bauer IdeaLab), a teaching museum, galleries and more.
From Jessica Rath’s “take me to the apple breeder” exhibit, a porcelain apple and an apple tree photograph.
The Perlman Teaching Museum and galleries there drew me to view “Single Species Translations,” which included Jessica Rath’s “take me to the apple breeder” and Laura Cooper’s “Opuntia,” and “The Intersection Between Book, Film, and Visual Narrative.” The exhibits have since closed. But “Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday,” opens January 17 and runs through March 12, 2014. The exhibit will feature the works of a dozen artists.
And here’s the really sweet deal. Admission to the Perlman Teaching Museum (and galleries) is free. Hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Note that the museum is open only during Carleton’s academic term, although closed during breaks and during the summer.
Connecting indoors and out in a section of the Commons.
My first impression of the Weitz Center for Creativity was one of visual appreciation for the modern, clean lines and minimalistic setting. I love the walls of windows, the pots of pines and palms and other plants interspersed among clusters of tables and chairs in a space that visually connects to the outdoors.
Cozy spots for conversation in the Commons.
I appreciate, too, the cozy settings of living room furniture that invite conversation and create a sense of intimacy in the spacious, open Commons area.
A snippet of Jessica Rath’s exhibit shows porcelain apple sculptures and photos of apple trees in the Braucher Gallery.
Entering the gallery, I noted the gleaming starkness of the space, an excellent backdrop to showcase exhibits. I know this is the gallery norm. But, since I did not grow up visiting galleries, I am still struck each time by this visual impact of a clean slate. Light and shadows and mood play upon art here.
A student studies a portion of “The Intersection Between Book, Film, and Visual Narrative” in the Kaemmer Family Gallery.
I won’t pretend to understand and enjoy every exhibit I view. We each bring our personalities and experiences and tastes to a gallery and those influence our reactions.
I love the simplicity of the apples positioned on the table in Rath’s exhibit and how the shadows play upon the tabletop.
More tabletop art, to be picked up and paged through by gallery visitors.
Additional print and creativity to appreciate.
A wall-size artistic interpretation of Opuntia by Laura Cooper.
While I could relate to apples and books, I couldn’t connect to the exhibit on Opuntia, a type of cactus. Cacti, except for a few grown as houseplants, are mostly foreign to me.
Just inside the doors of the Weitz Center for Creativity.
Yet, I learned. And that, too, is part of the arts experience.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling