Number 68: Jenny Schmid
Years spent living in MN: 10
Jenny Schmid's print work looks to the future as well as the past through inspirations as broad as medieval engravings, the '90s riot girl scene, and modern Eastern Europe, where she has lived and studied. Her work is loaded with iconography, and often speaks to modern-yet-timeless topics including femininity in pop culture, gender ambiguity, and the politics of freedom, all with a heavy nod to past comic and illustrative works. As a recipient of the McKnight Fellowship and the Bush Artist grant, Schmid has been able to found and create more pieces under her print studio, bikini press international. She also works as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Art.
[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:
The exhibit I saw about cultural exchange circa 1500-1700 called "Global Lab."
My students and past students' work and projects, specifically Tzvi Izaksonas, Robyn Carley, Kate Shannon, Britta Anderson, Tim Krause, Joe Moore, Ash Hane, Drew Peterson, Rachel James, Robin Schwartzman, Josh Winkler, Ben Brockman, and Maneli Aygani.
William Kentridge and his recent retrospective.
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:
Medieval engravings: artists Schongauer and Von Meckenem specifically.
The riot grrl scene coming out of the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s.
Living and traveling in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
What was your last big project?
A collaborative animation with Ali Momeni, Brennan Vance, and Heba Amin. Women's Desert Liberation Front showed it as part of a big project at Philadelphia's Philagrafika in a show called "The Graphic Unconscious." This was a city-wide exhibition of printmaking, focusing on the ways in which print has expanded to include other media.
What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
For the upcoming all-night event Northern Spark on June 4, my collaborator Ali Momeni and I are working on a live-animation piece. We will be projecting onto the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and it's commissioned by them through the Joyce Foundation. We are collaborating with high-school students to create an interactive public environment based on ideas around youth and violence, titled The Battle of Everyouth. Northern Spark will be taking over the city for a Nuit Blanche type event--very exciting!
Creative/career high point (so far)?
My monograph came out last year, Jenny Schmid: The Vistas of Gender Utopia (The University of Arizona Museum of Art). I have a book fetish, so it was important to me that it was also a beautiful object and Minneapolis designer Kelly English made it just that.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?
Trying to balance the organizational/business/gruntwork side with the creative side of being an artist is sometimes challenging! But I really have no complaints.
How has the local scene changed since you began your career?
We joke that its annoying now that there is so much going on that you actually have to pick between events. I think what has really blossomed is the small-scale, art-meets-event kind of projects like Salon Saloon, Works Progress, West Bank Social Center, and the recently deceased 1419, which was a young artists space on the West Bank. Bigger institutions try to emulate this, but the intimacy of these projects is part of what makes them so engaging.
For whatever reason, you are forced to become one of the characters in your work. Which would you choose, and why?
The Peace Insurgent. She is really needed right now: a heroine to combat all the hateful politics and war in the world. Sounds a little idealistic, I know, but I think it is vital to stand by stuff like peace and love right now.
What is your favorite song? Why?
If you listen to music 20 hours a day, there is no way to have a favorite song! I am really liking the following right now: Arcade Fire's "Rococo"; Kocani Orkestar's "Bayrem Sekeri"; and I am always listening to old rap, funk, and soul. My favorite song ever is probably Eric B. and Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul."
Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.
Past creatives, so far: