Gov. Kim Reynolds Honors Three Female Artists in New Display at State Capitol
Iowa Women's Art Exhibition features works by Karla Conrad, Angela Altenhofen and Emily Jalinsky
DES MOINES - Three female Iowa artists who use art to confront personal challenges are sharing their experiences through artworks in a new display in Gov. Kim Reynolds' formal office at the State Capitol.
The Iowa Women's Art Exhibition features pieces from Karla Conrad of Des Moines, Angela "Ange" Altenhofen of Chariton and Emily Jalinsky of Iowa City now through the end of December. The exhibit series, which rotates artworks from female artists semi-annually, was created in 2014 by then-Lt. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Arts Council.
“Creative expression plays such an important role in the healing process,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Art connects with individuals in deeply personal and emotional ways. I am proud to showcase each of these artists, their works and their stories in this display. It’s worth your time to see these pieces and learn more about the incredible women behind them.”
"These works are in different mediums and have their own individual identities, but they all rise from places of personal darkness and seek out the light, both in terms of their composition and the messages they convey," said Veronica O'Hern of the Iowa Arts Council. "They are hopeful and living proof of the healing powers of art. We thank all three artists for sharing their stories and talent with us."
The following artists' works are currently on display in the Iowa Women's Art Exhibit:
Karla Conrad of Des Moines
Conrad turned to photography to heal herself after a devastating car accident. Her most recent body of work, "Melancholia: A Fortunate Rebirth," showcases her journey to heal the mind, body and spirit. With "Fog on Trout Run," she captures the light and color that emerges from a dark, hazy setting at Backbone State Park in northeast Iowa. In "Wing," she captures water drops and fog that settled on the wing of a dead bird. She says the images describe the awakening process with a conscious focus on the symbols that Mother Earth provides along her path. Conrad was the first female staff photographer for Meredith Corporation and her work has been included in EatingWell, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, All Recipes, Rice Krispies, Delta Airlines Sky Magazine, DSM Magazine and TheKitchn.com.
Angela Altenhofen of Chariton
Born and raised in Chariton, Altenhofen has exhibited her works in venues around the world, worked as a costume designer with Chicago theater companies, and was an archaeological illustrator for the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, drawing artifacts from archaeological sites in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Israel. But it was an unusual "flashing" in her vision decades ago that changed her view of the world. She was diagnosed with presumed ocular histoplasmosis, a degenerative eye condition that can lead to blindness. She said the diagnosis prompted her to research how blind people experience art and process visual information. So she created works that rely on physical interaction and the sense of touch to communicate feeling, which she captures in "Caress" by translating Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed" into braille and onto a pair of gloves with little gold beads. With "Pet," she again used beads to translate a quote by English critic Matthew Arnold into braille and incorporated it into a woven twine and fleece garment. "It's about being present and enjoying the moment you're living in," she said.
Emily Jalinsky of Iowa City
Jalinsky has spent a lifetime dealing with depression and a sleep disorder. With the help of teachers, she turned to art as a way to express her anxiety and frustrations while seeking strength and clarity about her challenges. In her works, she focuses on meditation and the comfort of repetition in patterns that alleviate hopelessness and anxiety. In "An Appearance of Hope," the intaglio etching incorporates multiple layers that move between the worlds of print and mixed media with an embroidery of gold that symbolizes light. In "Peace in Letting Go," she uses a silk screen image of lichens as a symbol of resilience and continuing growth. "Lichen is a symbiotic and slow-growing organism that can survive for hundreds of years," she said. "Not only can it survive but it can feed others. It's not center stage here, but it's the image I repeat." On the other hand, she also writes down three things that she has to let go every day - good, bad or otherwise - and incorporated some of them into the piece. "It's very personal but it's fun," she said. "Really, though, to be able to grow as human beings we have to let things go and allow ourselves to transform. That piece was a pivotal turning point for me."
The Iowa Women's Art Exhibit is open to the public 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the governor's formal office at the State Capitol. The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.