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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Annamarie Parker
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I am an English, Writing major with a double minor in German and journalism. I'm also pursuing my TESOL certificate while working for Housing and Residence Life. I love to travel and meet new people.

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

DeVos Art Museum shows U.P.-inspired art

re-DevosFor eight years running, the director and curator of the DeVos Art Museum, Melissa Matuscak, has put on the U.P. Focus.

“The U.P. Focus exhibition is a show that I curate of one to three artists from, living in or heavily influenced by the U.P. specifically,” Matuscak said. “Usually artists create new bodies of work specifically for the exhibition, which gives a deeper insight into the artist’s concepts and processes, hence the word ‘Focus’ in the title.”

This year, the exhibit hosts local ceramicist Ann Russ and Mexican painter Leopoldo Cuspinera Madrigal. The artists were paired with great care and the result is harmonious. Matuscak shared that Russ has been on her “short list” for some time but she “just hadn’t found one or two other artists who might make sense to show with her at the same time.”  When finding Madrigal’s work at the Omphale Gallery in Calumet, Mich., she felt that, like Russ’ work, “Leopoldo’s paintings have a spiritual and ethereal quality to them. I feel like both artists speak from a very honest and sincere place and that comes through in the work.”

Russ’ ceramic urns invite us to reevaluate the mentality with which we view life and death. Creating urns that radiate with beauty and grace through detailed construction urges us to think differently about the purpose of the piece.

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Some, Russ mentions, purchase an urn for themselves to remind them of life’s ephemeral nature, while others collaborate with Russ to create a piece as unique as their loved one passed. Regardless, she captures with delicate warmth the importance of celebrating life, be it current or past.

Madrigal’s paintings explore the balance between nature’s untouched beauty and the urbanization that humans have brought to it. With an almost eerie aesthetic, he allows his handcrafted paper to speak to the delicate beauty of our natural surroundings while the paint he employs offers a shadow of the human experience’s effect on it.

Both Russ and Madrigal install a sense of acceptance through their work. While their subject matter holds enough balance to convey this sense, trust in their intuition can be felt as well. Intuition, as many of us know, can be a fickle beast; hearing that “little voice,” Russ shares, can be challenging, and listening to it, sometimes more so. Since she began making urns in 1999, she recalls trusting that little voice as being, “a relationship of trial and error.” At times she’d listen and at times she wouldn’t; the result, learning to trust the voice and learning when to listen.

Madrigal describes his relationship with intuition as “rationality versus himself” and the process of sorting the two as a combination of work and joy. His rational side urges him to be more calculated; how big is the piece and what color should the paper be?  This, Madrigal calls the “work.”  To follow work is the joy Madrigal found in being Madrigal; the brush strokes, the balance and the overall mood clock-in to dominate the piece with an elegant beauty that demonstrates the parallels between his message and his strong intuitive presence.

“Cuspinera [Madrigal’s] paintings inhabit the spaces between the past and present. He explores these spaces using symbolism, history and a large amount of intuition,” Matuscak illustrates.

The U.P. Focus has been a success thanks to Matuscak’s intentional curating and the depth of the artists’ collections displayed.  “This is a chance to see several works by one artist in an exhibition, which is a very different experience than seeing one or two works by an artist in a large group exhibition,” says Matuscak.

This year, the experience addresses the nature of life and the strong intuitive senses that help guide us. You can appreciate their collections from March 5 through April 5.

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