Ellen Klismith

Artist Statement

While we all lived through the same year, 2020, the personal experience was very different for each person. Covid-19 ravaged across the globe with a death toll now at over 2.3 million, bush fires spread across Australia killing or misplacing over 3 billion animals, over 10 million acres were scorched across the western US, an outcry for justice sparked political outrage in our already divided country, along with many other major events that made 2020 feel like an apocalyptic film. While an outrageous number of people were affected by one or more of these events, many of us were merely bystanders in our small town.

By keeping to ourselves with an ideology that displays a “not my problem” kind of attitude throughout these major world-changing events, we are displaying the highest form of narcissism. In order to make a positive change in the world, we must choose to help, choose to lead, and choose to take action towards the causes that will benefit us, our local community, and, eventually, extended communities across the globe.

It’s Time is a piece that focuses and is based on my personal self evaluation of my actions during 2020, while encouraging the viewer to reflect on theirs regarding the many major events reported throughout the year. It forces them to look into how their own physical or mental responses to these events may have affected themselves or the community around them.

Throughout last year, my emotions were a rollercoaster. Like most, I felt afraid, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, and what seemed like a mixture of all of them almost all the time. I had lost my job, the opportunity to see friends and family, as well as a lot of my faith in humanity. 2020 was a year filled with natural disasters in addition to human-made disasters and as the year went on, things only seemed to escalate.

My choice to showcase newspaper/online article headlines in my piece was a direct connection to the abundance of horrid events that we all had to live through in 2020. I chose to display these headlines using a clear acrylic sheet, as-well-as to my call to action on a mirror behind, in order to cause a chain of events when the viewer is standing in front. The initial viewpoint focuses on just how many awful things happened throughout the year (the headlines on acrylic), and when they step closer to shift focus to the mirror; the headlines, my call to action, along with the viewers own reflection is shown back to them.

Many challenges came along the way of building this piece, including the complex and ambitious choice to have our installation be outdoors for an extended period of time. This lead to a more expensive and time-consuming structure to hold my acrylic and mirror. However, this journey of brainstorming, research, designing, prototyping, and installation was all worth it. I am glad to be able to share my experience with the Winona (and extended) community, and I truly hope that my piece creates a spark that leads to a burning passion in everyone to make a change and take action.

  • Ellen Klismith

    I-Design Senior

Artist Talk

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