Artistic discovery

Whether it was in high school in Worthington or while she was at graduate school in Illinois, artist Holly DeGrote said she had a great deal of instructors who influenced her.

“They’ve opened me to great artists and research topics, asked me tough questions that made me reconsider how I make work, and/or served as role models through their own teaching styles and dedication to their studies,” she said.

DeGrote’s artwork will be on display Monday through Nov. 1 at the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council’s gallery in downtown Marshall. An artist reception will be from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26., featuring live music from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

DeGrote, a Worthington native, said she’s always been drawn to the arts, whether it was in literature, drama, music or painting.

“It’s been something I’ve loved since my childhood,” she said. “I received a great deal of encouragement in the arts in high school, and I decided that I wanted to major in art in college.” Teaching art at the college level was appealing to her, so she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in painting to do just that, she said. She is an art instructor and librarian at Northwest Iowa Community College.

She mainly sticks with painting with her artwork.

“Although I enjoy drawing and throwing on the wheel, painting allows me to focus more on abstraction, the illusion of depth and color,” she said. “No other medium can investigate the intricacies of color like painting.”

DeGrote said she prefers painting on a flat surface, like wood or paper, instead of canvas.

“The crisp edges and fine detail of my work is harder to achieve through the rough texture of canvas,” she said.

The work that will be featured at the SMAHC gallery is a combination of work DeGrote has created during the past four years. Since graduate school, she’s worked as both an art instructor and librarian.

“My first position at a public library brought me back to my early love of books. It not only enlivened the sense of discovery, enlightenment and curiosity that reading a new book brings but fostered my love of the illustrations and images contained within them,” she said.

She then began to take notice of the illustrations and images of the books that she came across.

“Collecting, cutting and transforming the images taken from books, encyclopedias and instructional guides brought about new ideas that paralleled the notions of discovery that I so love within the literary arts,” she said. “As a good book slowly reveals its layers, its ideas and its story, my work investigates this sense of discovery, curiosity and resolution.”

She had received an Individual Artist – Developing grant from SMAHC in December 2011. DeGrote said the encouragement and resources has given her an extraordinary experience.

“It has revitalized my studio practices and has enabled me to focus on a body of work that I am extremely proud of and excited to continue investigating,” she said.