ARTIST STATEMENT

Milwaukee-based artists, Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Marna Goldstein Brauner combine technologies of printmaking with fibrous materials such as paper and fabric to create new visual representations of space and site. They are drawn to the fragile, seemingly temporal nature of handmade paper as a medium to create both two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects, and are excited by the potential of collaborating on their installation, Wall Paper. Both artists explore cultures through traveling and making, through examining the environment via mediation, process, and materials. They obsessively photograph, draw and collect specimens, sourced near and far–from Milwaukee to distant locations including South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Italy, and India. Drawing from a repository of gathered materials, they re-imagine and synthesize place through printing, stitching, assembling, and fusing together elements into multi-dimensional forms, objects, and environments. Both artists are drawn to dense metropolitan areas, crammed with diverse architecture from modern to ancient and advanced to makeshift.

In an emerging, collaborative body of work titled Wall Paper, Meuninck-Ganger and Goldstein Brauner combine their stylistic approaches and create a long, dimensional assemblage, and free-standing objects that merge Goldstein Brauner's saturated and vibrant photographic/digital and textural sensibilities with Meuninck-Ganger's monochromatic, drawing-based graphic renderings. They layer and fuse imagery using translucent papers and architectural elements to form a panoramic wall-scape. Building on "wall" as a concept and prompt, the new body of work will reference a variety of ideas, including: interior vs. exterior (i.e., what it contains, obstructs, and disguises, as well as, its unique space within); wall as a presentation of decorative impulse; and wall as a conveyer of message (i.e., an archive of collaged popular, cultural, and political visual communications.)


ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

JESSICA MEUNINCK-GANGER’s prints, artist books, and large-scale mixed media works have been exhibited in museums and both experimental and commercial galleries regionally – near her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – nationally, and internationally. Her art is included in several private and public collections, including the Weisman Museum of Art, Northwestern Mutual, and the Target Corporation, and contemporary art publications, such Richard Noyce’s recent book ‘Printmaking Beyond the Edge.’ She has received residencies and fellowships all over the globe, and has instructed printmaking courses and workshops throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana. Jessica received her MFA in Studio Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2004 and is currently the Head of Print and Narrative Forms and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. www.jessicameuninck.com | CV

MARNA GOLDSTEIN BRAUNER is Professor Emerita of Art and Design (1989-2014) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, specializing in fibers-surface design. Prior teaching included the University of Kansas (1977-1985) and a visiting appointment at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received her MFA in textiles, with distinction, from California College of Arts and Crafts, 1977 and her BFA in Visual Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1974. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally in both solo and group shows, most recently at the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CaSa), San Agustín Etla (Oaxaca), Mexico; Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad, India; Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China; Gyodong Art Centre, Jeonju, South Korea; Hong Kong Design Institute and the Kaohsiung (Taiwan) Museum of Fine Arts. Goldstein Brauner has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Milwaukee Artists Foundation. Her work was featured in the books, The Surface Designer's Art and Celebrating the Stitch: Contemporary Embroidery of North America, as well as Fiberarts Magazine, and The Surface Design Journal. www.marnabrauner.com | CV


ARTIST INTERVIEW

Inspiration (Backstory)

The following questions are intended to provide insight into the artist's process, how they got started and what inspires them.

Was there a person or event that got you started creating your art? Does that person or event continue to influence the work that you do?

JMG: My parents are artists and retired educators. Both dedicated their careers to public education. My dad, Tom Meuninck, draws beautifully and is a master craftsman in ceramics. He taught at Washington High School in South Bend, IN for 40+ years. My mother, Karen Meuninck, works in 3-dimensional media, was trained in fibers and taught high school art as well as college-level graphic design. My brother, Tyler Meuninck, earned his MFA from UWM in studio arts (painting) and is a prolific artist. I grew up in rural Indiana, in a small town where several artists purchased land. Within a 3-mile radius, lived Ed Harding – a painter, lithographer, and professor of Graphic Design at Ivy Tech; Marion Pilarski – a painter and high school visual arts teacher; and Jim Paradis – a sculptor and professor at the University of Notre Dame. These colorful characters sat at our dining room table nearly every day, or at the very least, every week. Each played a significant role in exposing me to a broad range of art disciplines, concepts, theories, and practices. Of course I continue to share my art, ideas, and progress with friends and family several times a day. Ed, a printmaker, passed away during my sophomore year of college, is with me in spirit every time I grain a stone, mat a print, or step back from a drawing and analyze it with a critical eye. I often hear his words of advice and helpful criticism in my mind.

MGB: I had the good fortune (and very smart parents) to go to a high school with an excellent art department with nine full-time faculty. Faculty such as Nadine Raich (2D Design), William Wimmer (Printmaking) and Royce Lewis (History of Art), not only gave me my basic skills, but helped me find my unique voice. Bill Wimmer also taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and continued to be a profound influence during my undergraduate degree. An important visual and conceptual influence, photographing in cemeteries, that has continued throughout my career, started with my photography teacher at SAIC, Harold Allen. Finally, my major professor in graduate school, Janet Levin, was so important to my development as an artist and a teacher, that I still hear her voice in my head forty years later.

At what point did you consider yourself an artist?

JMG: A many points. My answer changes as I consider different contexts, and it can depend on how the person asking the question defines an artist. I suppose I considered myself an artist when I first put paint or pencil to paper with the intent to visually communicate an idea or feeling. I won awards throughout primary and secondary school and was a Sharpe Scholar in high school, maybe at the time and each point I considered myself an artist. Hard to say. When I won a Scholastic Arts “Gold Key” for a portrait of my good friend, Jack? When I earned my bachelor’s degree? When I was included in a juried exhibition? First solo show? Gallery representation? There are many points in an artist’s life that seem to validate a path. Internally, it’s been a part of my identity since I understood the concept of identity.

MGB: I tend to think of myself more as a maker. Since I applied for teaching jobs, exhibitions and grants that were for "artists" I must have thought of myself as one.

Who or what inspires you and why?

JMG: In general … people. My family and friends – their curiosities, interests, and dedication to making, teaching, the arts, community and civic engagement. Also, nature and built environments. Travel is my favorite form of research, from my commute to work to trips over seas. I’m also inspired by master craftspeople who have dedicated their lives to researching and honing techniques, then teaching skills others to preserve arts role in culture.  

MGB: I guess "everything" is too broad an answer, although its close to the truth. I'm a very visual person and take way too many photographs, most during travels. So, I guess I would say that the unique visual tidbits of the world inspire me. I have also been inspired by the beauty of world textile traditions.

What was the first piece of art you made? Do you remember why you made it? What materials did you use and why?

JMG: When I was two and made “pimple pig” (a small ceramic pig with globs of clay all over its body) with my dad in his studio. I’m sure I made marks and finger painted before then, but that’s the first art project that survived as a story and artifact.

MGB: I can't define what was the first piece of "art" I made. I've made stuff since I was young, always asking for colored pencils or oil paint sets. Pretty early on I realized I wasn't a painter. I define myself as a 2D object maker, and the first piece I got into an important juried show, was a photo-screen-printed quilt, so textile materials and processes have always been important to my work.

Are there any programs or learning opportunities that you wish you had as a young artist?

JMG: I attended a public school with a strong art program. In high school, I was involved in many extracurricular activities such as Art Club and Drama Club (set deigns), and was co-editor of the art and literary magazine. I took life drawing classes at the South Bend Regional Museum of Art as well as the University of Notre Dame. I feel like I had many opportunities. In contrast, I taught in the public schools in Elkhart, IN. During my tenure, the school system experienced tremendous cuts and lost art programs at the elementary and middle school levels, and it was devastating. During that time, I directly observed the shift in students’ analytical skills, ability to creatively problem solve, and general knowledge of tools and making. Integrating art programs in a rounded education is a significant and proven method of fostering skills, confidence, empathy, and independence through one’s direct relationships with materials and ideas!

MGB: As answered earlier, I couldn't have been luckier. I had excellent art teachers from middle school on. For all of the art classes I took, I didn't think I was going to become an artist. I thought I was going to be a children's librarian (another important childhood influence), and I was making stuff for the pleasure it gave me. I wasn't one of the art stars in my school and it took a lot of pressure off. My parents offered to drive me to Saturday kid classes at SAIC, but I didn't think I was good enough. Now I'm glad I came to my career in the way I did. My passion has kept me going all these years. No complaints.

What would you say to a young person to encourage their study and practice of art?

JMG: It’s not a frivolous effort or path. It will prepare you in unimaginable ways, and I guarantee that you will, at the very least, be more prepared to cope with rapidly evolving work, political, and environmental climates because of it. It will teach you flexibility, frugality, innovation, organization, leadership, confidence, and so much more. Do it!

MGB: As a teacher I used to tell students that making art is a choice between that, and a rubber room. Its a weird thing to do, and you only do it if you are driven to do it and have no choice. I guess the encouraging part is getting them to find what is unique to them in the process. I also used to tell them that the time to worry is when their parents like what they are making. As supportive as my parents were, they didn't get it until I got my first university teaching job and had "Professor" in front of my name.