When Creation Becomes A Joint Effort
By David Jensen
Exhibition Chairman, YAA
Artists are known to be individualistic and very protective of their work, which they consider personal. They often view their creations as self-expression. Some would say artists live in the internal world of their imagination, not the external world of social interchange and team playing.
What makes the current exhibition at Yankton Area Arts’ G.A.R. Hall Gallery unique is that it breaks from the conventional thinking of how art is created.
Called, appropriately, “ Collaborationism,” the exhibition of mixed media pieces was largely made not by an individual but by the considerable cooperation of two artists.
One artist, Corey Knedler, is chairman of the University of South Dakota Art Department and experienced in printmaking. He was born in Iowa, lived and earned his BFA in Kansas and now teaches at USD, where he had received his MFA. The other artist is Shannon Sargent, a former mountaineer instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps and now the exhibitions/collections coordinator at the Sioux City Art Center and an adjunct professor at Morningside College. Sargent earned his MFA degree in painting at USD, where he met Knedler.
Their artwork could not be more in concert.
“Shannon sent me a blank piece of paper, and I was supposed to start the work,” Knedler recalls. “I would do some work then send [the paper] back to him. We’d send the work back and forth three or four times and, in the end, we’d look at it together to see if we thought it was finished.”
Artists who would not want to see another person even touch their work would view this process incredulously. However, Knedler believes it has helped him grow as an artist.
“You can get stuck in a certain style and technique because you think it’s successful,” he explains. “But collaboration is a way of seeing there are options. I’m amazed of what I’ve learned about myself. It’s a growing experience.”
Knedler recalls the first time he collaborated with another artist. “It wasn’t planned; it just happened,” he says. “I collaborated with Bryan Holland, a painter from Gregory.”
Knedler recalls Holland telling him that he wasn’t “getting feedback” on his work, and he wanted a critique. He sent paintings to Knedler who, with Holland’s permission, made additions. Knedler then sent Holland some of his own art and told him that he, too, could make additions. Eventually the two artists displayed their cooperative creations.
Collaboration is not new in art, according to Knedler. He cites joint activities in music, such as a CD created by country singer Willie Nelson along with jazz vocalists Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Likewise, there is the CD, “A Wonderful World,” sung by country and pop singer K.D. Lang and musical icon Tony Bennett.
Rare as it may be, Knedler says even other visual artists have worked together. He gives as an example Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who together created large, environmental artworks in urban and rural settings. Some may recall when the husband-wife team produced “Running Fence,” a brightly colored 24-mile curtain that ran along the landscape in Marin and Sonoma counties in California. They also completely wrapped the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building in Berlin, as if it was ready for storage in some giant attic.
Knedler’s and Sargent’s art may not be as grandiose as Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s. But their exhibition is well worth viewing. It will be on display at the G.A.R Hall Art Gallery through Feb. 16.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, running from 1-3 p.m., Knedler and Sargent will be at the opening for their exhibition and give a gallery talk to reveal how they worked together. The talk and their collaborative exhibit will show that, even in art, two heads can work better than one.
YAA Calendar of Events:
• through Feb. 16 — “Collaborationism” featuring Cory Knedler at the G.A.R. Hall Art
• Jan. 23 — Reception and Gallery talk featuring the works of Cory Knedler, 1-3 p.m.; open to the public
• Jan. 23 — Lewis & Clark Theatre Company’s annual Theatrical Gala at Minerva’s. (Editor’s Note: Due to the weather, this event has been postponed to March 6.)
The G.A.R. Hall Gallery and Yankton Area Arts office are located at 508 Douglas Avenue, Yankton. The gallery is open to the public free of charge from 1-5 p.m. weekdays and from 1-3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, please contact Pam Meylor, executive director, via e-mail at Pam@YanktonAreaArts.org, visit our Web site at www.YanktonAreaArts.org or drop us a line at 665-9745.