Rooted Forward white text on brown background

Rooted Forward

2022 Student Creative Showcase

April 9, 2022
May 22, 2022
Liz Connors, Mathis “Blue” J. Edwards, Cora Dean-Wyatt, Ellie Leonard, Carolina Lopez, Megan Riley, Theo von Weiss

Opening Reception: April 9, 5–7pm

In-person artist talk: May 5, 11:45-1:15pm

St. Catherine University’s annual exhibition of student artwork is featured in Rooted Forward. These artist scholars describe their spring 2022 showcase: “Personal reflection and elements of nature define the art presented in Rooted Forward. The work explores a variety of themes as artists delve into themselves and the world to find inspiration. The artists express concepts of nature, movement and organic forms. This show demonstrates the duality between the artists’ roots and the cusp of what is yet to come.”

Liz Connors ’22


Artist Statement: My artistic vision stems from two places. On the one hand, my intense fascination with the world and everything living inside it is where my inspiration is rooted. From the unknown mysteries of the cosmos to the intricate detail of the forest floor, I can’t help but feel astonished by the presence of all life on the earth. Through my art-making I seek to record and reflect on the moments in my life when I feel the warmest, safest, and most connected to the universe.

On the other hand, my artistic vision is heavily influenced by the status of the world, and the people on it. At this point in the world’s history, the globe is dominated by people, and is suffering our causes. I find myself creating work that both reflects coming to terms with the status of a world infected by humans, and seeking to find ways to make positive change for the earth and the lives of the people here.

As I finish up my degree in Art Education here at St. Kate’s, I am inspired to use art-making as a tool for social justice and human connection. I hope to influence my future students to do the same, while simultaneously exposing them to the incredible beauty of the universe through the arts.

Detail, The Little Things, multimedia, 24" x 43"

Mathis “Blue” J. Edwards ’22

Artist Statement

Human life and personal growth is just evolution on fast-forward. As a natural history enthusiast and person who has drastically altered their adult body, I live in and make art about the overlooked, “ugly,” and “unfinished” phases of forward momentum. The imagery I choose revolves heavily around mythology, science-fiction, evolutionary history, and ocean ecosystems, particularly deep sea life.

Despite my initial focus on 2D work, I have been dipping my toe into sculpture since June of 2021. I enjoy working with my hands and I feel bonded to my ceramic and multimedia work; the process feels very much akin to making a friend. Long hours spent bent over emerging faces and bones make me feel like an archaeologist, surgeon, dentist, dermatologist, and physical therapist all at the same time. We spend a lot of time together; far longer than I spend with my human friends.

My large-scale sculptures are made from hand-built ceramic pieces, faux fur, and a variety of metal wire for the skeletal structure’s underneath. I’m tempted to attribute this amalgamation of materials to my piecemeal identity or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a very flattering parallel, I know). In reality, I’ve been taking inspiration from a puppet-maker and I am just following her advice because I am not the type of gay person that knows their way around a hardware store. I want my sculptures to seem soft and friendly. Humans waste so much time fearing change.

Detail, Uninvited, mixed media, 240" x 60" x 91"

Mathis “Blue” Joubert Edwards is a queer French-American artist who will graduate from St. Catherine University with a BA in Studio Art in December of 2022. Throughout their undergraduate education they have snooped through many mediums: charcoal, ink, watercolor, wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery, creative writing, ceramic sculpture, digital illustration, animation, and music. No, it does not narrow down further.

Having spent a decade in coastal California, the ocean and environmental conservation are themes at the forefront of their practice. Blue begins each piece with a deep dive into a new research topic, often natural science, evolution, and marine biology. Their subject matter is greeted with a faithful, realistic study and quickly followed by work that leans into whimsical and grotesque imagery.

After graduation, they hope to pursue a new course of study in marine biology and scientific illustration.

Cora Dean Wyatt ’22

Artist Statement

I believe everything a person does from the smallest action to the biggest statement says something about both them and the society in which they live. This concept is more clearly expressed within art. Even if the artist is not conscious of it, their art speaks loudly to who they are and where they are from. I see art as a uniquely individual experience, something with extreme intimacy yet at the same time completely disconnected. Art can be created with a strong sense of purpose, just for the joy of making, or both. Art doesn't need a purpose or goal to be created, and though it may have been created without intent, that does not mean it is without meaning. I tend to create in a more free-flowing sense; I don't make in-depth plans with every part considered before I start. I let the art speak for itself. This often means that I go into the process of making intuitively, just a feeling pulling at my hands and mind.

I am a highly tactile person and I understand the world through touch, and this quality is reflected in my work. My ceramic art is made in my hands and meant to be held and experienced through touch. It should feel like it fits in your hands or that your hands fit around it. I attempt to create this tactility in my paintings as well. My goal is to make images that look like you could reach in and pick it up, even if it is too abstract to know what ‘it’ is. Within all my work I try to incorporate a sense of movement, though often not explicitly. Even when stationary, my work is not static. The forms themselves force the eye to move around the compositions. This gives my work a sense of motion even when it is at rest. I am drawn towards more muted earthy colors as these facilitate the tactility and comfort I strive to create in my work. The touchable yet intriguing, the raw yet still thoughtful, and completed, is what interests me most in art. I don't want some perfect form that a machine can make. To me, that is boring and unnecessary. I want something that looks like it was handmade, something filed with my fingerprints and brush strokes and me.

Abstract Organic Form #1, MB clay & glaze, 5.3" x 6" x 7"

Cora Dean-Wyatt is a young female artist and a senior studio art and Spanish double major who will receive her BA from St. Catherine University in May 2022. She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, into an all- female family (two moms and a sister). Due to her upbringing, Cora was raised with a slightly skewed sense of the normal. Growing up, all of her friends had lesbian parents, giving Cora the impression that having two moms was the norm instead of the exception in society. The misconception lasted until Cora started school. As a child growing up firmly within the LGBTQ+ community, Cora never questioned her freedoms of choice and self-expression through identity and sexuality. Her parents gave her the room and support to find who she was as a person, as artist, and within the wider community. This gave her a strong, liberal-leaning outlook as she was given the freedom to explore herself without judgment. Though her work remains mostly an abstracted form of reality and hardly delves into the topics of identity and the LGBTQ+ community, these aspects of her identity are important when understanding her viewpoint as an evolving artist. Without knowing where she came from and the communities that shaped who she is today, it would be impossible to understand her work and the path that it is leading towards in the future. Through her work with Professor Monica Rudquist, and as a studio assistant, Cora has broadened her knowledge of a working ceramic studio and she has expanded her community of local clay artists through the St. Kate’s Clay Club. In the future, Cora hopes to pursue a master of fine arts with the goal of one day becoming a ceramics professor.

Ellie Leonard ’22

Artist Statement:

Sometimes, I think it’s strange to call myself an “artist”... I know I’m an art major in my senior year of college—I know that I paint—I know that I’ve had my pieces critiqued and displayed in galleries … but I always feel like a large part of being an artist has to do with reaching out, and I tend to find myself spending time reaching inwards, to myself, in my work.

I’ve never really known who I am, as a person. I’ve spent most of my life being a collection of people, carefully crafted to be whatever anyone else wants at a particular time: to use, to love, to hurt. I don’t know what about me is real or tangible. I think that’s why I’m so obsessed with self-portraiture. I want my own perception of myself to become tangible. I want others to see me how I see myself. I want to know how others see me, too, but I don’t know if that’s something that will ever be possible. Someone told me I don’t paint myself pretty enough, once, and I think about that a lot. How did this distance between what others see and how I feel become so apparent?

Who am I when everyone’s watching? Who am I when I’m alone with myself? How do I know who I am? What makes me me?

Creating art, notably portraits, has given me a way to connect with others that feels empowering and authentic. I know that the way I see the world is fundamentally different. I want to know how I’m different from you, but I also want to know how we’re the same. I’ve always felt alone, even in a sea of people … but, maybe I want to make connections. I can be beautiful and monstrous, real and artificial, joyous and dreadful. Maybe, I can show you how I see myself, and we can make a connection. I’d like to show others a piece of my world. I think I reach out more than I originally thought.

Detail, I’ve Not Gone Crazy, watercolor, 20" x 16"

Ellie Leonard is a fourth year student at St. Catherine University, who plans to graduate in the fall of 2022. They were the 2021 recipient of the Peter Lupori Scholarship, and are currently the design team lead for Ariston, as well as Carol Chase’s studio assistant.

Ellie considers themself to be a painter and a storyteller. Born and raised in Minnesota, Ellie has always been inspired by the colors, sights, and sounds found in Minnesota’s forests and lakes. They are particularly interested in the use of color to convey emotion. Their use of greens, yellows, and oranges invoke a sense of familiarity and comfort intermingled with a sense of unease and tension. They have spent a lot of time grappling with the effects of the psychiatric care system, and with how being diagnosed with heavily stigmatized disorders can drastically warp self-image. They believe that emotions, memories, and trauma are multi-sensory experiences, and believe that art can help us express things that cannot be put into words. Many of their pieces include phrases from music or text that they had a profound emotional reaction to, notably from their time as a singer and actor.

Ellie is also particularly interested in popular culture, notably video games, and believes that their lifelong passions for gaming and creating go hand-in-hand. They believe that video games should be reexamined as a compelling and accessible form of art, and want to help show the world that. After graduation, they’d like to find a career in character concepts or design!

Carolina Lopez ’22

Artist Statement

I am a multimedia artist. I paint with acrylic, watercolor, and gouache; I work with ceramic clay and I love to make books and prints. The Latino and Mexican cultural and ethnic identity is an underlying theme to everything I make, based on my own experiences and memories I have of growing up in a Mexican household. Most of my current work is part of a big love letter to my parents as a way to thank them for all their hard work to provide for my siblings and me.

My use of bright colors reflects the livelihood of the Mexican culture I grew up in. Every family gathering was filled with laughter, loud music, non-stop talking, children running around, and always outside, if possible, with a piñata filled with all sorts of candy. Mexican folk art, with its organic lines resembling flowers and foliage, inspires and influences my work as well. This is most evident in my book, Recetas de Mama, and my pottery set, El Jardín de Familia. Both works include plant and floral designs in a similar manner; the added white in my ceramic pieces is inspired by the simple yet intricate designs found in Mexican folk art. The pottery also has Spanish words stamped on the forms that reflect the theme that each flower represents.

The natural world is another recurring theme in my work that has ties to Mexican culture. The theme of family is often intertwined in my work and I use forms found in nature to expand on that theme. Flowers are the most common imagery I use and they are often flowers that I remember from my childhood. I spent a lot of time outdoors at home and in both my parent’s hometowns in Mexico, which allowed me to disconnect from the digital world, and enjoy nature and every moment with my family.

My Shoes, acrylic, 26" x 32.5"

Carolina Lopez was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the daughter of two immigrants, and a first-generation graduate. Starting off as a math major at St. Catherine University in the fall of 2018 with the intent of getting a career in Engineering, she switched to Visual Arts Education halfway through the semester while taking a drawing class. Carolina has been involved with the Art and Art History Department as a painting studio assistant in 2020, and as Summer Scholars undergraduate research student in 2021, when she studied public art on campus with professor Monica Rudquist. In addition, her artwork has been included in Ariston, St. Catherine University’s annual student art and literary publication, from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, Carolina received the Amy Marie Sears Scholarship award for the 2021-2022 school year. Carolina is expected to graduate May 2022, and plans on moving back to Fort Worth, Texas, to pursue a career as an elementary art teacher and continuing to work on her own art.

Theo von Weiss ’23

Artist Statement:

The artwork I made for this showcase juxtaposes philosophy and art history. My poems creatively and critically reflect art history as a discipline. They are based on historical works of art that were reproduced on slides when the institution was known as College at St. Catherine. The poems explore concepts such as time, space, personal reflections, and how collective thought has changed over time. As artist Titus Kaphar has observed, there are many issues regarding power and access within the history of art, who has been allowed to hold space in the art world, and how those spaces and narratives may be amended. These poems explore how society views art, and how society's view of art changes as society changes.

There is a lot of philosophical thought that has gone into my artwork especially considering aesthetics and the concept of space and symbols. I chose to utilize cassettes in my installation because they hold a certain aesthetic that is linked to a past place and time. I also carefully considered which object I chose to use for my illustrations so there is one symbol associated with each poem. These symbols create their own narrative with questions and answers of their own. I have included chance dice that creates a playful and engaging space for the audience to relate to my artwork.

As a philosopher, I am drawn to ideas and concepts that are abstract and I express that by mixing realism with abstract images in my artwork. I intend for my art to be playful and uplifting while equally compelling and powerful. I want my artwork to inspire curiosity for the viewer, so they explore it in their own way. My images and words are only a starting point, the viewer has complete control over where my work takes them.

Installation Detail, Ekphrasis 2-4, digital prints and poetry

Theo von Weiss grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Wisconsin at age 14. They went to Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, Wisconsin. There they became a part of the theater program and acted in four different plays. When they were a senior, they were the Assistant Director for the theater program’s musical. At the same time, they developed their artistic style and discovered a fascination for photography. Their first exhibition was a photography show about sex trafficking in Wisconsin.

After graduating from high school in the spring of 2018, Theo took a gap year and traveled. They participated in an art program in Italy and Greece where they studied painting, photography, creative writing, and classical literature. They then worked on a farm in Costa Rica and continued developing their photography and painting skills. In the fall of 2019, they enrolled at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Theo is in their third year, and they are majoring in philosophy and studio art with a concentration in painting and photography. They expect to graduate in the spring of 2023.

Artist Statement

Megan Riley ’22

Art making, to me, is an intrinsic need. It brings my life meaning and is my favorite medium to employ in my attempts to dissect gender, sexuality, American culture and advertising while revealing the unconscious and the spiritual. I am interested in translating my thoughts, memories, dreams, and ideas into a visual language. I like to use cultural artifacts and ephemera from thrift stores and free piles to create the still-lifes I paint. There is a ghost of memory, identity, and meaning in the advertisements of old LIFE, Good Housekeeping and Vogue magazines that I am currently exploring in my collage work. I also aim to please myself visually when I paint, exploring decoration and aesthetic for its own sake. Ultimately, I make art for my own pleasure and purpose in an ongoing conversation I have with myself about life and the way I see it.

Bang!, acrylic, 32" x 22"

Megan was born and raised in Minnesota. After high school she waitressed and cleaned houses to pay the bills, taking classes sporadically at various community colleges. She took an oil painting course at Saint Paul College on a whim. From then on painting became her greatest passion. After some hard times and a rut, Megan moved to South Carolina for a change of pace and with hopes of adventure. Five years later she returned to Minnesota to have her son Mika, who’s sense of imagination and humor is a great influence on her art. Megan worked a few odd jobs and even tried working in an office, which was really not her thing. She finally decided to return to college and major in art education, with plans to graduate next fall. Her intention is to keep making art as she teaches and learns from new generations of artists.