How would you describe the work that you do?
My art has migrated from drawing and painting into the digital art world of editing video on the computer. When I went to the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing I decided I was going to work with video. In 2000 I started to do sculpture/video installations with my youngest son, James Brenner. I would say my work has changed over time, and I have really loved doing the video for the now fifteen installations, collaborating with my son.
Do you find the process you would take from drawing/painting has worked its way into your film?
Definitely. The choices you make on compositions, the way you think about what you want to have come out of the drawing or painting is the same way. . . . Sometimes I just plunge in and it starts, then as I go along I see it connect and evolve. It’s kind of the same thing in other types of art. Then, with the installations, it’s a rapport between us [my son and myself] to decide the final piece.
Are there ways in which you intend your work to challenge the viewer?
Yes, it seems like in everything I do I draw this line of having it extremely realistic and having it a little bit vague so that the viewers can put their interpretation or it may challenge them to think of something beyond what they exactly see in the work.
Is there something you are currently working on that you are particularly excited about?
Of course, I’m excited about the show we’re doing. . . . Also, I’ve been working with Ellen Schillace for about three years on [the exhibition] The Women and Money Project. . . . In 2010 I had done an exhibition with a couple of organizations [Women’s Caucus of Art, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the art faculty at the Nash Gallery] . . . that was about women and water rights . . . and now they’ve invited me to do The Women and Money Project, which will be on view from September to December 2016. So, on a recent cruise, I interviewed women from different countries. . . . I’m excited to work on that [project] for that exhibition, and my son and I will again collaborate for it.
What have been the greatest challenges to your art career and how do you navigate them?
In the early part of my career I graduated from the MCAD art school, then soon married, got pregnant, and so it was negotiating raising my four sons and trying to find time to make my art. . . . This was back when the wife stayed at home and the husband went to work. Mine traveled to Hong Kong for half of the year, and it was fine if you could do all that as long as you did “what you were supposed to do” with taking care of your children and doing the housework. . . . I eventually decided to go back to the University of Minnesota and get an art education degree . . . so then it came to negotiating that as well. . . . But art has always been such a healing source for me, . . . it gave me a break from trying to be a super mom.
What advice has influenced you or your art making?
I really give a lot [of credit] to MCAD; I think it was a really good educational background. . . . I feel that we’re very fortunate to have a school like that here.
At the University of Minnesota, too, I had one instructor in the art education program who made you see the whole picture of art and make the connections. The other classes [were important too], you need more than just the art skills, you need the whole life long learning background.
In your opinion, how is being a woman artist in 2015 different from what it might have been like one, two, three or even four decades ago?
It was different given a wife’s role in the family. But I think we’re still not there yet, we need the ERA . . . we have a long way to go. There’s still not enough representation for women artists in museums, art journals and equal prices for their work. . . . We’re not there.
Does personal history work its way into your practice? How might who you are be reflected in your current work?
Well, it’s kind of fun, because my son has to join the Women’s Caucus for Art to be part of this exhibition, since we collaborate together . . . and we’ve done national and international exhibitions that aren’t just WCA-related exhibitions.
Are there certain ways in which you identify yourself as a feminist artist?
I’ve always belonged to several women organizations. . . . My mother was part of a similar organization and she would sometimes bring me along to the meetings, so that was fun. It’s always been a part of my life. . . . And even though I have four sons, I want them to be cognoscente of the women’s movement and what’s going on.
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