Upon entering Vesna Kittelson’s North Loop Minneapolis studio, you notice that her space is populated with the faces of Young Americans. The painted portraits, slightly larger than life, are unfettered by frames and hung directly on the wall, most of them at eye level or just above. You can’t help but meet their gazes; most are looking straight on. Their features and apparel reflect a wide range of backgrounds, but they are, unmistakably, individuals, not cultural proxies. They are…
Join us for a conversation with featured artist Vesna Kittelson, a vital participant in the Twin Cities arts community for decades whose series of Young Americans portraits are on view now at the Weisman. Take a virtual studio visit with the artist, along with WAM staffer Susannah Schouweiler, who was among the essay contributors for Kittelson’s newly published catalogue, Synthesis: Lost and Found in America (Afton Press, 2020). Read the essay in full on the WAM website >>
Don’t miss your chance to purchase a copy of the book, signed by the artist, at the WAM Shop! You may pick up a copy in person, or order the book for curbside pick-up, or to have it shipped to your door. Order the book online >>
Kittelson’s Young Americans series includes dynamic, cutout portraits of her art students, which reveal her bonds with fellow immigrant artists of a later generation. Indeed, her intensely varied and prolific artistic production always maintains autobiographical connections. Her recent installations of deconstructed books, as well as her luminous drawings of fountains, recall her childhood in Split, Croatia, where the ruins of Diocletian’s palace from the fourth century CE remain in the contemporary city center. Her early color field paintings represent people and places she remembers through color and abstractions, evincing the focus of her art studies at the University of Minnesota in the 1970s. Her war paintings portray tragedy and emotion related to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, as well as her own reactions to the 9/11 attack on her new country, the United States. The brilliant botanical watercolors in her artist’s books result from her research on Charles and Emma Darwin in Cambridge, England. Her large paper sculptures dramatically express personal reflections through color and three-dimensionality.
These many materials, subjects, and genres, like her self-portraits, show Kittelson’s deep engagement with a great array of everyday worlds. Her ever-evolving practice and multiple roles as artist, professor, and colleague demonstrate her strong passion for creativity, as does her astonishingly diverse, international, and rich artistic career.
This virtual event, via Zoom, is FREE but registration is required to participate in the Q&A. Register: z.umn.edu/VesnaKittelson
This conversation will also be simulcast to the WAM YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
About the artist: Vesna Kittelson was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (of Croatian descent) – and became a naturalized American. She has lived between Split, Croatia; Cambridge, England; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was an original member of the feminist WARM Gallery (Women Art Registry of Minnesota); she taught at MCAD for many years; and she was a founding member of the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts, where she holds a studio. She was a member of the co-op Gallery Form and Content Gallery in Minneapolis from 2013 – 2019.
Now On View: Young Americans is on view in the Fisch Gallery at Weisman Art Museum through January 3, 2021.