Telling it Like it Is
If there’s one thing that describes Michael Knutson, says painter and cartoonist Tim Gardner ’07, it’s his “dry humor.” Another? “He’s very honest. He’ll let you know if there’s something he can’t support. Positive feedback is important, too; and he doesn’t give it lightly, but when he does, it really matters. Michael says what he actually thinks, and that’s really important in an art teacher.”
Gardner started taking Knutson’s painting classes during his sophomore year. “That’s what first got me interested in making hand-scroll paintings,” he says. “He encouraged my interest in those, in particular, and in cartoons, and made me feel more confident with my intuition about them.”
He’s also taught Gardner how to talk about his work. “Michael has shown me the possibility of an intelligent and rigorous apprehension of art, even in the process of making it . . . that you can in fact be articulate about art, and can hold well-thought-out opinions and defend them, without betraying some muse.”
Art as Ongoing
It was Geraldine Ondrizek’s art that inspired Lotus Grenier ’06 to construct installations—“about the spaces that we store things in and homes as storage spaces.” But little did Grenier know when she started studying with Ondrizek five years ago, that the two would become good friends. “That inspired me even more,” she says.
Each week during Grenier’s senior year as she prepared her senior art thesis, Ondrizek visited her studio to discuss her writings, sketches, and sculptures. “Gerri was so willing to share this wealth of information. Other times, she would be unrelenting in asking me questions that I resisted answering, because I didn’t want to see that layer of why I was doing what I was doing.”
What does Grenier take away from working with Ondrizek? “She stressed that contemporary art is something that’s present-tense. You have to make art every day, and approach it as a process that’s integrated in your life and constantly evolving. Now that I’m no longer at Reed, I’m trying to make that happen.”
The huge color photographs that Sam Falls ’07 creates may make a statement, but what are they actually saying? After talking with Akihiko Miyoshi one day, he had to ask himself that question.
“Aki opens everything up and at the same time wants you to be critical of it,” says Falls. “A lot of the questions I ask are answered with questions: he wants me to figure it out. But he’s always willing to spend time with me.”
Without imposing his own direction, Miyoshi “focuses on the students and where they’re going,” while exposing them to other artists, Falls explains. “Aki is an encyclopedia of art and references. He’s good about showing the different options out there in our media. There’s almost too much to learn, but I feel capable in terms of my art processes and the world of art.”
And it speaks in Falls’s work. “Aki has shown me that I can share an idea that can influence other people in society, motivating and empowering them, versus making something you just hang on the wall.”
Miyoshi and Grenier photos by Orin Bassoff ’04