Minot State art faculty, students bring home awards

PEKIN, N.D. – Minot State art faculty and students had a successful showing at the Pekin Days Art Show, one of the largest judged art show and sales in North Dakota.

The annual celebration, sponsored by the Nelson County Arts Council, presented five students and three faculty with awards.

For Minot State students, April Jenkins, Burlington, received First Place: Sculpture for her piece titled “Forget Me Not,” while JoHanna Grosz, Minot, was honored with Second Place: Printmaking for “The Fruit.” Three brought home honorable mentions: Hannah Streccius, Minot, in photography for her untitled piece; Rayson Renfrow, Minot, in printmaking with “Passing Through;” and Ben Wilson, Surrey, in ceramics.

Based off the success of their students, it is no surprise that Minot State faculty received six awards.

Micah Bloom, Minot State associate professor of art, found success in his debut at the Pekin Art Show. He was the recipient for three awards. His piece “Repent” received First Place: Drawing while “The Stoning of St. Stephen” was awarded First Place: Printmaking and Best in Show.

The 15 inch by 11 inch woodcut and chine collé Best in Show piece was made for Print Day in May, a celebration hosted by Flat Tail Press, an educational printmaking studio at Minot State.

“On March 31, 2019, prominent hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in his LA neighborhood. As I was reading an online news report, I was surprised by all the YouTube linked videos that readers could click on — the CCTV footage of the murder, the murderer bragging live, online immediately after the shooting, cell phone footage of a street brawl, etc.” Bloom said. “I was struck by the access and ethics of putting all of this out on the Internet, for anyone to view again and again.

“I started to think about how it would be if events from ancient times were also recorded and disseminated in this same way, and I thought it would be powerful to reimagine the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. In this picture all the perpetrators — some with phones up, recording — are behind masks. As Stephen states, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’”


Ryan Stander, associate professor of art, began showing work at Pekin while still in graduate school due to the encouragement of his fellow students and faculty.

“I love how Pekin brings together artists of all levels from across the state and beyond. It is a wonderful example of community art,” he said. “One of the best parts of Pekin is the opening reception for artists: great food, networking, and of course the art. I am thankful for all their work to pull this remarkable community event together year after year.

Stander was honored First Place: Photography. He submitted three photographs from his new series “Somewhere Between Myth and Reality.”

“The work was a diptych photograph of trees with a great deal of negative space between them. In the other pieces, I introduce a color shift toward pink, turquoise, etc. which pushes the photograph away from the reality we typically associate with it,” he explained. “The idea comes from when I visited Italy last year and how my memory and imagination were so overcome with the history of photography that it was hard to make new work. Places like Florence and Rome exist somewhere between the accumulation of collective memory — and all the images of it — and our personal experiences of it.

Linda Olson, professor of art, found her work “Frog Eyes” honored with First Place: Pottery/Glass and the Brenda Bjorlie Honorary Award.

Olson has a long history with the Pekin Days Art Show, participating as a featured artist in 2003, entering work 11 times, and jurying twice, once in 2013 and again in 2018 during the exhibition’s 25th year.

“This dedicated all volunteer organization is wonderful and should be a model for all small towns to follow,” she said. “The events they sponsor bring communities and artists together. The support they give artists is immeasurable. In the case of the Pekin Days Art Show, the board sponsors a great event involving artists from multiple states. One can look to the event to gauge the North Dakota art scene, viewing art that has been created by artists from emerging to professional categories.”

As featured artist in 2003, Olson demonstrated on the pottery wheel during the five-day event. She received honorable mentions in 2006 and 2015 for her work, but this is the first time she won in her category.

“I am most honored to receive the Brenda Bjorlie Award this year,” Olson said. “Brenda began this event in 1993. I have long admired her dedication to believing in the necessity of and working so hard to realize art for all, especially those in a more isolated area. As an artist who has long worked myself to bring artwork of challenging variety to smaller venues, I related especially well to Brenda’s tireless campaign to bring the art camps to students from the Nelson County area.”

The exhibition reception was held on June 26 and attended by Minot State artists Marissa Allen, Alex Jimenez, Olson, Renfrow, Stander, and Wilson.

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 07/03/19   

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