The University of South Dakota fine arts department is hosting a Community Arts Lecture Series of six lectures throughout the semester. Assistant professor Amber Hansen has created this series as part of her seminar course on community-based art. The lectures are open to the public as well.
Local artist Reyna Hernandez led the first talk on Jan. 25. Hansen said in an email interview, Hernandez is the first artist lecturer because of her community-based mural projects in the Vermillion community and other communities in South Dakota.
“Many people in Vermillion may already be aware of her work, but this will give people the opportunity to learn more about her approach and philosophy as it relates to creating public art. Not only does (Hernandez) create monumental public works, she is a writer and prolific studio artist,” Hansen said.
Junior Rachel Olney, a student in Hansen’s seminar course and art major specializing in ceramics, said she is excited for the opportunity to go to the lecture.
“I enjoy when artists come in and talk to everyone because it’s good to see where people come from and their outlets,” Olney said. “The creative process is unique to everyone and to see what people walk through and how they get to the end goal is interesting.”
Hansen hopes students will gain a broader perspective on art through these lectures.
“I would like students to be introduced to new artists and projects but I would also like them to think about new ways of creating and sharing their work. Community-based and socially engaged artists work in a variety of different mediums and with different goals and intentions,” Hansen said.
Hernandez’s lecture is titled “Representation and Personal Narrative in Public Art Spaces.” Hernandez recently had an exhibition in the John A. Day Gallery in the Warren M. Lee fine arts building as part of her 2021 Northern Plains Indian Artist in Residence award.
Olney said these talks are important because they help artists understand community and how to connect a community.
“I start to think about what’s going on in their area and how is it impacting them, then it gets you to start thinking about what is affecting you and what’s affecting your community. That is the whole point of community-based art is to take an area and make some thing that connects the (people in the community),” Olney said.
The Community Arts Lecture Series are held in room 209 of the Warren M. Lee fine arts building or online. Dave Loewenstein is the next lecturer in the series and his lecture will be held on Feb. 1. Attendees can contact Hansen for access to the event virtually as well.