KW: You draw your inspiration from natural materials you discover while hiking the North Shore of Lake Superior. What draws you to that area of Minnesota?
Lynn Speaker: Lake Superior and the surrounding forests teach me humility. The rocks around the basin are some of the oldest on earth. Sitting on a sun-warmed slab of basalt I am aware of the layers of time that rest beneath my feet. It is an expansive landscape that brushes away human concerns...like pesky flies.
I gather, sort, and arrange: creating a dialogue with the objects I find on the North Shore. This work is foundational to all my art. I can be a bit obsessive looking for specific objects and then assembling them into relational groups. It is the way I respond to the landscape. The small objects are closer to human scale when contrasted by Lake Superior's vast horizon.
|Stone Groupings by Lynn Speaker
KW: Your compositions are beautiful, compelling, and mysterious. How did you come up with the idea of using gunpowder to create ghostly images of stones, bones and plant materials?
LS: My artwork is process-based, typically led by a specific line of inquiry. These questions direct my investigation and provide a framework to push against. This approach opens the process to chance occurrences that often overtake my original intent.
My work with gunpowder developed out of this process. I love charcoal; it is an ancient, elemental material that I have worked with for decades. I began to wonder what other fire-based material I could use to make an interesting mark. My explorations of many types of materials eventually lead me to try gunpowder. It was frustrating to work with at first. My experimentation finally ended in an unexpected result. I was hooked. I continue to discover new aspects of this medium.
KW: What is the most interesting comment you have received about your work?
LS: I have heard many interesting comments during my 15 years of participating in Art-A-Whirl. One question that stands out was, "How do you shoot your gun to create the images?"
|Forest Layers by Lynn Speaker
KW: What authors and artists have most influenced your work?
LS: I prefer creative non-fiction, lyric essays, poetry, artists' writings, and art theory. Favorites include:
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
by Annie Dillard,
News of the Universe
by Robert Bly,
by Joni Tevis,
The Mind of the Raven
by Bernd Heinrich, and
by Agnes Martin.
Many artists influence my work. Often they have an obsessive trait or draw on Asian influences. I like work that asks a question and then pushes to reach a conclusion but never quite finds the end point. Long-time influences include Michelle Stuart, Pat Steir, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, John Cage, Richard Long, and Vija Celmins. Recently I have been looking at the work of Lee Ufan, Zarina Hashmi, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Joseph Cornell.
KW: You were awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board 2014 Artist Initiative Grant.
How did your work evolve during the grant period?
|Liminal Space (installation) by Lynn Speaker
LS: The purpose of the grant period was to take time for experimentation without necessarily reaching a formal conclusion. I introduced new ideas and techniques that allowed me to linger in a transitional phase. I made a variety of found object sculptures, monoprints, and small paintings. I took a great encaustic collagraph workshop with Jeff Hirst at the Grand Marais Art Colony. My new work will carry many of these ideas forward.
KW: Why do you have a studio in the NE Minneapolis Arts District?
LS: I came to Northeast in search of a larger studio, community, and proximity to interesting places. These are the reasons I'm still here. I've been at the Grain Belt Bottling House for 16 years.
KW: You have been very dedicated to working with Women's Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) over the years. Please describe your involvement. Why do you feel it is important to support WARM?
LS: I joined WARM to connect with other women artists. I entered the WARM Mentor Program and worked with mentor Jackie Kielkopf for two years. I became a mentor soon after completing the program and served as a mentor for 12 years. I then took the position of program co-coordinator.
The mentor program is fantastic and one of the most formative experiences of my career.
KW: Your work is currently showing in "New Works by So-and So" at Instinct Art Gallery. (July 18 - September 12, 2015)
LS: Yes, the group show at Instinct Art Gallery is outstanding; I encourage everyone to ignore Nicollet Mall construction and visit the gallery. Participating artists include, David Aschenbrenner, Elizabeth Garvey, Nancy Robinson, Judy Onofrio, Ben Moren and Jantje Visscher. Gallery Director John Schuerman has put together some thoughtful and provocative shows over the last year.
KW: Do you have any more gallery shows or events coming up?
LS: This fall I'll be participating in "Personal Best" an exhibition of two-dimensional art by artists who have received Artist Initiative grants in visual art from the Minnesota State Arts Board during 2013 and 2014. The show is at MSAB offices in St. Paul. "Personal Best" is part of the St. Paul Art Crawl. The opening reception is on October 9 at 7pm.
|Private commission by Lynn Speaker