A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being a visiting artist at the University of Nebraska and Constellation Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska. I met Karen Kunc, who brought me there, when we were both artists-in-residence at the Oregon College of Art & Craft in 2010.
Karen just opened Constellation Studios a year ago, and it is truly an amazing facility. Just look at the mural on the outside of the building. And down the path in the foreground is a lovely walking/running/biking trail that runs along a river.
This is a destination if you make it to the heartland and there are opportunities here for everyone (well, everyone interested in books, print and paper). You can rent time in the studio (and even stay there), become a member artist, or take a workshop. There’s a lovely gallery space too.
Karen is busy with a capital B, and I’m so glad she took time to host me! Below you see her proofing a print for the artist Nancy Friedemann, one of several notable regional artists who have brought their vision to the woodcut process, offering their own unique visual voice, paired with quality hand production that is a hallmark of Constellation Studios and master printmaker – Karen!
I spent a day at the University of Nebraska, where I spoke with students in one of Karen’s classes and visiting the grad students in their studios. I was impressed with their work! The campus (and the city of Lincoln) have lots of public art. Here’s a piece on campus.
And Claus Oldenberg & Coosje van Bruggen created Torn Notebook for the city in the 1990’s. I visited the university’s Shelton Museum one afternoon – which was a little gem!
Karen’s papermaking class meets all day on Saturdays, so we had plenty of time to work on watermarks, which was the topic of the day. I’d sent instructions ahead of time, so most students came with an image. We cut out the watermarks and then all 12 students made watermarked papers in this beautiful studio. You can see more photos here, including more watermarks and some photos of the paper studio.
On my last evening in town, there was an opening for an exhibition at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney (a two hour drive each way). It was a paper show, and Karen had a piece in it, so we drove over with two other artists who were in the show. Cut, Formed, Folded Pressed: Paper is lovely show featuring more than 50 artists who have some connection with Nebraska. I’d only heard of maybe 10 of these artists. My favorite piece was Where is A? by Ying Zhu.
The permanent collection is pretty amazing. I was delighted to discover this piece by Sheila Hicks, who hails from Nebraska. And BTW, have you seen this video about Sheila’s remake of a commission for The Ford Foundation? It is lovely.
And last but not least, Karen and I had a bit of time to put our heads together and are planning to collaborate on an accordion book featuring my watermarks and her woodcuts. Here’s a sketch of the mock-up. Stay tuned!