Minnesota artist Jodi Reeb is starting her residency with Springboard for the Arts this week through their Hinge Arts residency program. While the residency traditionally takes place in Fergus Falls, COVID-19 has forced most artists to participate remotely. Artist meet and greets are now taking place on Zoom and Springboard is working with artists to find studio spaces near them they can use if needed.
Reeb still plans to visit Fergus Falls for her residency, though, even if she can’t stay here as originally planned. "I’m planning, in the Fergus Falls area, to take photographs of the Prairie Wetlands … and then also the Maplewood area, I’m just going to see what I see and respond to the area,” she said.
Reeb is a multimedia artist who specializes in double-exposure photography and encaustic painting. “I take photographs of mostly pollinator plants, but then also using film, I have a vintage Nikon camera, and I’ve been doing … double exposures so that, when I take a photograph, I don’t advance the film, I take another photograph layering on top of it,” she says. “I love that serendipity that happens with film and it’s almost like a surprise when you get that film developed, to see what you’ve taken. It’s really about intuition, being in the moment and choosing which photographs get layered over which photographs.
She gets the black and white film developed, makes large prints of them on tissue paper and then uses a beeswax paint to paint on the print, a technique called encaustic painting, to give the photos color and texture. She also uses screen printing and printmaking techniques on her paintings to create repeating patterns.
Reeb gets her inspiration from plants and flowers, especially pollinator plants. “Two or three summers ago I went to my farmers’ market and one of the growers there was just telling me about challenges they had with honey, just being honey producers, and we struck up this conversation,” she said. “Of course in the news I hear about all these struggles that bees are having, but just having talked to someone who had hives and this bafflement about what’s going on … it touched my heart, honestly, and I wanted to learn more.”
When she received a grant through the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2018, she focused on doing research about pollinator plants and bees. “I just wanted to do some research around that and then also raise awareness about the cause and really educate people, because there’s all these things that we can do ourselves, just by having a little plate with water with rocks in the dish in our yard, or not raking our leaves, or having some ground that’s uncovered so the bees can burrow into the ground,” she says.
Another reason Reeb makes art is specifically to display them in health care settings. Reeb’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Reeb was in high school and she realized how poorly chosen the artwork hanging in the clinics she went to were. “I wanted to make art that I felt was either healing, or would be really nice to look at in a health care setting,” she says. “I went to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and I studied painting and printmaking, but with the bigger goal that I wanted to place my work into health care settings.”
Now, she has many works in clinics around the state and friends will reach out to her when they see one. “It just really touches me to know that people are connecting with my work in that setting,” she says.
When her residency in Fergus Falls is over she hopes to have her work displayed at the Kaddatz Galleries. She also hopes to set something up at the Otter Tail County Historical Society, as her photographs will be focused on local plants and flowers.