making art in iowa

Amber Fields © Laurayne Robinette | All Rights Reserved

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everyday it's different

In the Summer Garden, © 1998 Ellen Wagener | All Rights Reserved

In the Summer Garden
© 1998 Ellen Wagener | All Rights Reserved

audio listen (67 sec./421KB)

When you grow up in Iowa, I think a lot of kids feel like, Get me out of here now. I'm not going to live here as an adult. I cannot possibly imagine why you would want to live in a place that was boring and the corn just grew, and there was nothing of interest here. So, I tried to run away from that, and yet when I ended up coming back to Iowa in 1990, I started looking at the landscape and I started doing drawings of the landscape of Iowa, and it just kind of took on its own momentum, and I couldn't stop doing it. That's what made it easier to want to stay here. It's exciting to be an artist who lives in Iowa when your subject is all around you and it's constantly changing and everyday it's different.

A lot of people just don't pay attention, because they're just kind of benign to the landscape because they see it everyday. I really intend to describe not only how Iowa looks as far as when you drive in the car and you're looking at cornfields, but I also want to create in the paintings that sense of mysticism and awe that I feel when I'm driving in the landscape. I want to kind of pull that and put that specifically into the work.

~ ellen wagener

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interior life

Sketchbook page (Chocolat), © 1996-97 Gelsy Verna | All Rights Reserved

Sketchbook page (Chocolat)
© 1996-97 Gelsy Verna
All Rights Reserved

audio listen (55 sec./339KB)

When I first moved here, I didn't think I could work here. I would always think, Oh, I need to go back to Chicago, because at the time I was really interested in finding things on the streets and collecting pieces. And then I thought, Well, how can I do this here?

For me, Iowa works on the sense where it allows me to focus as a teacher. And then there's something of that, that goes to the studio. But I can only do it with enough traveling. Being able to go to the places where you get questions or you get answers, and then you can come back to your studio and do it.

When I spent a year on the East Coast there were times I was like, Oh, I can't believe I'm wishing for Iowa. But it was like the quiet, the taking a breather. Iowa gives me more of a kind of interior life.

~ gelsy verna

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slower pace of life

Ben Franklin's Gift, © 1999 Kristin Quinn | All Rights Reserved

Ben Franklin's Gift
© 1999 Kristin Quinn
All Rights Reserved

audio listen (41 sec./247KB)

It's a slower pace of life, which I like a lot. I never really thought I would say something like that, but it's an easy place to get around, I have great friends, there's a lifestyle that it would be very hard to trade. So I think I'm happier than I've been in some time. I can't say that the Iowa landscape has always been too formative. I really—I love the river. I can't say it's my sole muse, but I really think the river and all the industry moving up and down it is fascinating. I love seeing barges go through. So, being able to get into the landscape is wonderful here.

~ kristin quinn

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