It’s the third week of the month, which means it’s time for another Grantee Highlight! Our Grantee Highlight series is our monthly initiative to get to know our current Individual Arts Partnership and Jade Presents Arts Partnership grantees. This month’s featured grantee is photographer Jon Solinger!
Jon Solinger has exhibited his photography regionally, including at the North Dakota Museum of Art, Rourke Art Museum, Plains Art Museum and galleries in Minneapolis, Fargo and Fergus Falls. Thanks to Lake Region Arts Council and Minnesota State Arts Board grants he self-published his “Working Land” photo book in 2016 and toured his “Working Land” photography exhibit during 2017-2018. He resides with his family in Lida Township, Otter Tail County Minnesota, maintaining a studio there and working as the third-generation owner of Solinger’s Resort on Lake Lida.
Jon received a $750 Individual Arts Partnership grant to create a series of portraits of five families who still occupy the land where their immigrant ancestors settled. He currently has an exhibit called “Home Lands” on display at Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum with an artist reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, July 18 at the museum (1110 Lincoln Avenue West in Fergus Falls, MN). The exhibit runs until September 6.
Enjoy our Q&A with the artist below!
Beyond other photographers what sources inspire your work?
Maps and diagrams that make visible the hidden patterns and forces at work in the world. They can be both aesthetically and intellectually engaging. Also, concise and transparent writing that conveys thought and emotion without drawing attention to itself.
What is your daily creative work schedule?
Irregular. Some days a lot happens, other days not so much. I do think about creative work every day; I suppose that’s also part of the process.
How do you approach the beginning of a project?
I tend to think too much at the beginning. My best approach is to just start; the project clarifies itself through the working process.
What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
Have I chosen a direction that is a good use of my limited time and energy? Will it have significant meaning to other people?
What do you do when you get stuck?
Narrow my focus, choose one idea to work through at a time. Keep pushing through distractions and fatigue.
How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
It is important to me that other people understand why I’m doing these things, and that they believe my work might make a positive contribution to my community. I get inspired by other artists, both through their work and by their example of being artists engaged with the world.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
Learn the vocabulary of your medium and talk about it with other interested people.
If you had a chance to do it all over again, how would you do things differently?
Dedicate more time to doing art; put it on the calendar and stick to the schedule.
What was the most discouraging feedback you ever got?
I’m OK with any feedback that results from looking at and thinking about the work. I get a little discouraged by indifference.
What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got?
Although I did not set out to make work that stirs emotion, I have been encouraged to hear people talk about the work as meaningful to them for its emotionally expressive qualities.
What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
Build furniture. (Still an artist.)