Artist's Statement, Erika Nelson

In 2001, I moved into a bus, exploring outsider art environments and roadside attractions. I left a teaching position at the University of Kansas, turning down the option of a tenure-track position at a university in Pennsylvania. I lived on the road for two years. While living in the desert of Arizona during winter 2002, I developed the bus into a traveling roadside attraction and museum housing the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things. The inaugural tour of California sites started an enterprise which has changed my life.

I returned to the Midwest, establishing a home base in Lucas Kansas. Since developing the mobile museum, I travel 6 months out of the year in either the Museum or the smaller Art Car, Scout. I talk to thousands of people a year, either through these public works or as a lecturer.

As private life transitions into public persona, personal identity has evolved to preserve some sort of privacy. Through this four panel work, I tell the personal side of this period, focusing on the transition years between 2001 and 2003. From University instructor to independent artist and educator, nomadic wanderings to entrepreneurial explorations, homeless to re-established roots, the stories behind the museum development are depicted in a non-linear narrative format.

The Artist Exchange program was a great help in producing this piece. Reviving rusty critique skills, exploring the hidden dimensions inherent in multiple interpretations of the same visual field, and direct conversations evaluating results versus intention were integral to the process, and evidenced in the result. The exchange of ideas cannot be confined by a specific time period, and as a result of this program, a continuing dialogue between participants has been introduced, benefitting all parties.

In working with Ruth, I found a common vision, albeit from a different perspective. An interior dialogue informs her installation and assemblage pieces, while my public work is fairly bold and straightforward. Her experience in the fine art of lettering and visual communication overlap with my own graphic design background, providing a common ground in which to discuss techniques and methods best suited to carrying out this project. Having open, frank discussions about content helped shape (and sometimes disguise) the subject matter in this somewhat open ended approach to narrative form.

Artist Exchange Participants: Harley Elliott, Ruth Moritz, Stan Herd, Erika Nelson, and project coordinator Connie Burkett. Not pictured, Carolyn Wedel, Mary Kay, and Kate Augustine.




Show Dates - May 3 - June 3, at the Salina Art Center, 242 S. Santa Fe.
Closing Reception May 31, 5-7 p.m., remarks at 5:30 - meet all the Artist Exchange participants!

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