Four artists have been selected to live and work at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station’s historic Pine Needles cabin this summer. They will each spend two to four weeks on the banks of the St. Croix River, studying their surroundings, interacting with water scientists, and creating new work. This year’s residents represent a broad spectrum of career experience, from emerging to established artists.
The 2018 artists-in-residence are: Leigha Meredith (Iowa City, IA), Moira Bateman (Minneapolis, MN), Greg Lecker (Minneapolis, MN), and Annie Hejny (St. Paul, MN).
Since 2001, the program has provided dedicated time and space for participants to pursue artistic interests. It also gives artists the opportunity to interact with Research Station scientists and the community, informing their creative process.
The program received a nearly record number of applications from the U.S. and Europe this year. Applications were reviewed by station staff and outside judges. The Research Station is comprised of a team of scientists studying water issues around the state, country, and world.
Leigha Meredith is an undergraduate environmental science major at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She will finish her college work in 2018-19 by completing a minor in studio art, focusing on connections between science and art. She plans to study ecology and the Pine Needles habitat through the lens of observational science, creating field notebooks, biological illustrations, and paintings.
“I came upon my art practice late in life, when I discovered my fascination for the science of nature went hand in hand with its aesthetic beauty,” Meredith said. “I realized the power of creating to translate experience and develop and artistic vision for a re-enchantment of everyday life, reawakening our profound sense of wonder by turning attentions and intentions back to the natural world."
Moira Bateman of Minneapolis is a mixed media and textile artist, trained as both an artist and a landscape architect. She will create pieces that represent specific waterways and connect to issues affecting those ecosystems and the water itself. Bateman collects and crushes organic materials from remote landscapes, wraps and ties raw silk into bundles with these materials, and seeps the fabric bundle in the lake, bog, or river water for a number of weeks. She then finishes these stained silks with a variety of additional media.
“Through this residency, I hope to push my artwork so that it better represents specific waterways and connects strongly to specific aspects and issues affecting those ecosystems and the water itself,” Bateman said.
Greg Lecker is a Minneapolis plein air painter who will focus on portraying differences in water – its accessibility, quality and clarity. Lecker has written and illustrated over 100 nature columns for a neighborhood newspaper, as well as multiple pieces for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and is completing an 18-month residency at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley.
“During my Pine Needles artist residency, I hope to deepen and broaden a body of work that I’m calling 'Exploring dis-a-re,'” Lecker said. “I’m examining concepts from dismissal, disturbance, and discoloration through discovery and recovery to rebirth, rejuvenation and reunion. My paintings will focus on painting differences in water — its accessibility and quality — particularly issues of clarity.”
Annie Hejny of St. Paul creates abstract paintings with water and sediment honorably-harvested from local waterways. She plans to not only incorporate the natural elements of the area into her work, but to also listen to community residents’ stories and conversations about the river. She will open a solo show in mid-summer at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.
“From experimentation to refinement of this technique, I am deepening my relationship with Mother Earth and tending to her shorelines,” Hejny said. “This bond resonates through my paintings and encourages awareness about basic water usage and the foreboding shift in our relationship to these waters.”
The Pine Needles cabin was originally built in 1912 by conservationist J.W.G. Dunn and was later owned by his son James Taylor Dunn, who served as chief librarian of the Minnesota Historical Society from 1955 to 1972 and published the first major history of the St. Croix River in 1965. It was donated to the St. Croix Watershed Research Station in 1998, the Pine Needles residency was piloted by writer Laurie Allmann in 2001, and was opened up to other artists starting in 2002.