Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Civility is for the Birds

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | May 9th, 2018

Design by Raul Gomez

By Tayler Klimek
tklimek@cord.edu

Tucked in the back of Roberts Street Studio, if you follow the “yellow brick road” (a funny story, if you get the chance to ask her), you are likely to find local artist Mackenzie Kouba working on her next masterpiece.

Born and raised in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Kouba is no stranger to the art scene. She began her arts degree at UND, then continued her studies at NDSU where she graduated with her BFA in the spring of 2011. She has been a dedicated public arts advocate making incredibly inspiring art for years, and for the past two has been working as a fabricator for P2 Industries. Having had solo exhibitions at the Upfront Gallery, Gallery 14/DK Custom Framing, The Art Connection, the Rourke Museum, the Plains Art Museum and many others, it’s no surprise that she’s a finalist for the 2018 Best of the Best competition in the category of “Best Artist.”

Kouba says she always knew she’d be an artist. Diagnosed with ADHD at an early age, art was one of the sole subjects she could focus her attention on.

“I was all over the board when trying to focus in school, but they could set me down with a box of crayons and it was really the only thing I could stick my mind to,” Kouba said.

For those who aren’t familiar with her work, Kouba’s pieces thrive in oil paint. She likes to take what she was playing with in 2D and apply it to 3D, incorporating other materials into her painting.

“Something I really gravitate to is reusing materials,” Kouba said. “If I can take something out of the dumpster and alleviate it from ending up in a landfill – giving it another life in something else – I prefer to do that.”

Kouba explained that she thinks objects do retain a certain life of their own, especially objects that were heavily handled by and used in human interactions.

Something she’s been working with lately is piano parts, which you will see some of in her upcoming show at the Plains Art Museum.

Kouba has taken nearly 100-year-old pianos and trashed them, taking them apart and reusing the pieces in her artwork.

“The detail and intricacy of all the moving parts that are in there – all the materials that go into these moving parts – are really astounding for what people had for tools at the time,” Kouba said. “It’s really a kind of amplified example of analogue. Being that so much of our world has become digital, seeing the physical act of that sound is pretty interesting, or understanding the mechanics of how that sound is being made.”

Something that most viewers of Kouba’s artwork see is her fascination with color.

“Being that I’m very farsighted, the first number of years of my life were not about lines or edges or anything like that; it was just a blur of colors,” Kouba said. “Visually, that was kind of the language I learned first – sometimes the hard way.”

Much of her work is influenced by social commentary, conservatism and increasingly important global issues.

“Especially with what has been going on in our world and our country in particular, it seems like an important time to express the things that we think are important,” Kouba said.

When asked what she wants viewers to take away from her art, she explained that at the root of it, she wants it to be amusing, but also hopes to provoke questions or dialogue.

“It’s not so much about me trying to tell somebody the answer to what I’m portraying in the content of the piece, but trying to get people to ask some questions themselves,” Kouba said.

Kouba used the phrase ‘You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ when explaining how she tends to draw her viewers in with her whimsical and bright colors before they stumble upon the heavier impact of the content.

“I’m kind of a jerk like that.” Kouba joked.

What’s most rewarding for Kouba as an artist is when she can get that feedback from viewers, knowing that her work did provoke thought. At her last show at the Rourke, a professor and friend of hers brought a group of students from CHARISM – a neighborhood-based non-profit in Fargo offering relationship-based, skill-building programs for low-income and New American children and their families. Kouba said that these kids were staring at everything wide-eyed and had some really powerful questions for her.

“Having them look at this work and receive some really valid, hard questions for me, and even just seeing how they were thinking about these things was really gratifying,” Kouba said. “It also really inspired a lot of hope in me as far as just seeing how perceptive they are of the world, too.”

Be sure to keep your schedule free and make it to Mackenzie Kouba’s upcoming show “Civility is for the Birds” at the Plains Art Museum, on display until August, where you will be sure to see some of her amazing paintings on display, including some of her piano-inspired assemblages. The opening of the show and Artist Talk will take place next Thursday, May 17 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

[All artwork included in this article by Mackenzie Kouba]

IF YOU GO:

Artview Exhibition: May 17 – August 18, 2nd floor hallway at the Plains Art Museum

Artist Talk: Thursday, May 17, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Museum-wide reception: Thursday, July 12, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Recently in:

The vibrant life of Ashley Lake Hamilton came to a sudden end on the Sunset Highway between Airway Heights and Fairchild Air Force Base on Thursday, December 10, 2020.Ashley was born on a beautiful Monday afternoon, June 2, 1980,…

By Michael M. Miller michael.miller@ndsu.eduThe late Mary Lynn Axtman, native of Rugby, ND, who dedicated many hours for GRHC, shared this message about ornaments from Joseph S. Height’s section on Christmas in his book,…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comOur opinion: Let’s work together instead of against each other. Think of where we are now in comparison to last year, think of what we’ve learned since and how this is affecting our futures...…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmai.comWhat Are Our Biophysical and Religious Limits?Scientists are studying the effects of the world’s ever-expanding economic growth, increases in population, consumption of our natural resources, and…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Reviving Rural Grocery Stores in North DakotaBy Annie PrafckeFargo, ND – On October 7th, Gov. Doug Burgum awarded Milnor Market and the Forman grocery store project Main Street Awards, as part of an initiative led by the Office…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.com18 March 2021Many of the talented musicians in the Fargo-Moorhead area…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com07 May 2021Hard to say whether non-cinephiles will be interested enough to watch a feature-length documentary about a movie critic, but Rob Garver’s “What She Said: The Art of Pauline…

Color Fest: The City of West Fargo wants YOU to help paint the townBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comOn Saturday May 8 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, at The Yards on Sheyenne street, the city of West Fargo is hosting Color Fest…

Theatre

Digital Dragathon

by HPR Staff

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Ashlee Nordquisthpr@hpr1.comI've come to the conclusion that not everyone understands why my brother and I went on ventilators for covid and what that means. As I survived and my brother SO FAR is improving, I can make jokes and…

By Faye Seidler   fayeseidler@gmail.com Community Uplift Program Project Coordinator        (701) 732-0228https://www.facebook.com/communityupliftprogram                                                                            …