Meredith Lynn is one busy lady. Not only is she the new interim director at The Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, but she has also served as director of Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids, Minn., for the past three years and is the fourth artist in residence as part of The Arts Partnership’s community-centered initiative in collaboration with TMI Hospitality.
Her latest body of work, “Elkhorn Ranch,” consists of 13 drawings and a limited-edition artist book that explores the ideas of grief and place.
“It feels natural to grieve in Fargo in the winter,” Lynn said. “But there’s something about the harshness and isolation of the environment that continually snaps you out of it. I’ve lived all over the country, and in no other place have I been so routinely reminded of my own fragility as I am here in the winter.”
Though she has never been to Elkhorn Ranch, she uses the name as a metaphor for Teddy Roosevelt’s pre-presidential experience in North Dakota, where he went to grieve the deaths of his wife and mother. Lynn made her own parallel as she grieved the tragic death of her college roommate.
“I like to think that [Roosevelt] had the extreme version of my own experience,” she said. “The cold, the wind, the harshness, the difficulty of just maintaining life here in the winter probably took up all his emotional energy. And once he was OK again, he moved back to Washington and ran for president.”
The artist uses herself as a model for many of the drawings “to capture an emotive quality often not found when working with another,” according to her artist statement. It only makes sense for an exhibit that is so deeply personal. She also incorporates text within the pieces, giving the work a very distinctive graphic quality that ties in nicely with her interest in the book arts.
The young artist was introduced to book art in college at the University of Iowa. At first she started to take books apart to make them her own, and she eventually studied book production.
“The engineering and problem-solving side of it is appealing to me, as is the capacity for creativity. I love thinking of an object — the way it should move and operate,” Lynn said.
She is also the mastermind behind Rust Belt Bindery, a Moorhead-based book bindery.
“I created Rust Belt Bindery as a way for me to do book art work and collaborate with artists and writers without monopolizing the ownership of the projects,” Lynn said. “For Rust Belt, I invite artists and writers to collaborate, and I design, print and bind the fruits of those collaborations.”
As The Rourke’s new interim director, Lynn is focusing on nourishing the museum’s already strong roots.
“The amazing thing about the organization is the rich history and long-standing relationships individuals have to the place. We’re working hard to honor the traditions established over the past 50 years while updating some of the practices,” she said.
“One thing I feel very strongly about is education. Museums have an obligation to provide strong educational programming and occasionally leave the comfortable confines of the museum building, so we’re developing some exciting educational and community-based opportunities.”
With her roles as an artist, book binder and director, Lynn has her hands full. But having what seems to be the Midas touch of creating and supporting a creative community, she’s golden.
Meredith Lynn’s “Elkhorn Ranch” drawings
Opening Thurs., July 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
On display till Nov. 9
TMI Hospitality, 4850 32nd Ave. S., Fargo
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