Strength in Numbers
Searching for ways to incorporate her passion for social justice causes and feminism into her growing art practice, Anna Garski ’12 decided to sign up for the Women’s Art Institute (WAI) near the end of her sophomore year at St. Kate’s. She didn’t know it at the time, but that summer would change her life.
The four-week studio intensive, held each June, led to her attending graduate school in San Francisco and, last summer, joining the WAI faculty.
“It was fantastic,” says Garski, of co-teaching with director Patricia Olson and guiding others to find their creative path. “My institute experience, plus double major in studio art and women’s studies, prepared me to teach the unique course content in WAI.”
Questions, generated by the participants themselves, comprise the heart of the curriculum for the institute. And they change every year.
In 2013, one of them was “How can I cultivate fearless creative energy in my studio practice?” Last year, one was “How can I honor the emerging facts and accomplishments of past and present female artists?” The 15 to 20 practicing artists and art students find the answers by challenging themselves — and each other — through open studio work, intense individual tutoring, inspiring conversation and critiques, and presentations from guest artists, critics and art historians.
And many participants make major life decisions just to attend. Then, they are forever changed when they complete the program.
“I barely had time to paint. I was really frustrated,” replies Mexican artist Susana del Rosario Casteñeda Quinteros (pictured, top), when asked her reason for traveling to Minnesota. “I wanted to have time for myself and to learn from other women who maybe were feeling exactly the same. So I quit [my job], I went to WAI, I painted, I was really happy and now I am studying for a master’s degree here in Mexico City.”
Stories like hers and Garski’s are common among WAI alums. They arrive with questions and doubts, but leave with strong vision and focus. The Women’s Art Institute has sold out every year since 1999. The 2017 intensive is scheduled for June 5–29.
For more information and registration materials, visit stkate.edu/wai.