making art in iowa

Amber Fields © Laurayne Robinette | All Rights Reserved

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landscape the centerpiece

Tall Grass-Violet © 1991 Mary Merkel-Hess | All Rights Reserved

Tall Grass-Violet
© 1991 Mary Merkel-Hess
All Rights Reserved

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I didn't plan to live in Iowa. I was going to come back and do my grad work and go on somewhere. But as it turns out, I am living all my life in the Midwest, and most of it in Iowa. And I love the landscape. Since I didn't have the option to travel much or to move, you know, I just have said, Well, what am I going to make art out of? And I also haven't had a troubled life nor am I interested in putting my own sort of psychological drama into my work. I've made the landscape the centerpiece. That's where I look for my inspiration.

~ mary merkel-hess

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the rhythm of the rows

Land Waves IV © Mary Muller | All Rights Reserved

Land Waves IV
© Mary Muller
All Rights Reserved

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I think Iowa is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. We have enough rolling earth that it isn't flat and yet sometimes flat is great. The quality of life out in the Midwest; it's certainly quieter than the big city. I love the landscape, the occasional barn. I love the rhythm of the rows. I like to go down the highway and look at a field and the rows are going in perspective back away from me. I love rhythm in a painting, and the rows really mean something to me. I love the repetition of bales of hay in a field. I like the way the clouds repeat the shapes of the trees on the ground. And the colors—we have the change of seasons. Snow is so exciting, it is so beautiful. And the colors in the fall and then the spring comes out and you've got these little flowers, and then the summer. I would be so bored living in a place where we had just one.

~ mary muller

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more influence than I really know

Graduation © 2000 Barbara Bruene | All Rights Reserved

© 2000 Barbara Bruene
All Rights Reserved

audio listen (43 sec./241KB)

I think what affects the work so much is my family and my friends and my interests, and if all those same things were in some other place, I think maybe the art might look about the same. I don't know if there's an Iowa influence. I really like Iowa. I really like living here.

When I was doing my graduate work at Drake, I did it over quite a few years. So I was driving from Ames to Des Moines a lot. And I don't think there's been any other period of my life where I have more appreciated the Iowa landscape, and the nuances of change and color and texture. So I think probably it has a lot more influence than I even know.

~ barbara bruene

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