Project Space Grantees


Betsy Ruth Byers

Betsy has systematically shifted the focus of her work to intentionally address climate change through visual representations of ice since her sabbatical research in 2017-2018 of glaciers in Glacier National Park. She is drawn specifically to disappearing glaciers for two reasons. One, glaciers are sensitive indicators to climate change due to their isolated nature. Two, the landscape of glaciers has historically been connected to the human experience of the sublime in nature and art.

The Project Grant will support the development of a full-scale gallery installation inspired by glacial loss due to climate change. Betsy envisions the installation will have a large scale painting (potentially an entire wall) that viewers encounter in solitude. The piece will be lit in a darkened space with limited entrance for a single viewer or pair of viewers. Outside of this sanctuary-like space, will be a second room with auditory, olfactory, tactile and visual elements that explore ice and loss. This could include the sound of ice breaking and cracking, a large ice block melting that the viewer may touch and a projected animation of her painting “melting.” During the grant period,  Betsy will also explore the potential of creating and displaying a livestream component that records either the interior space with viewer’s encountering the large painting or an image of ice melting in real-time.

Betsy chose to study art “because art classes challenged me more than anything else.”  After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in studio art from St. Olaf College, she was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She shares her love and enthusiasm for making art with students as an Associate Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College. Her work has been exhibited at numerous venues both nationally and internationally, such as. PULSE Miami Beach 2019, SCOPE New York 2017, the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University, Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus Adolphus College, Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, Guilford Art Center in Guilford, Connecticut; The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, The Institute Gallery in Sogndal, Norway; and the National Galleries of Scotland. Her work resides in several private, corporate, and museum collections including the Weisman Art Museum, Hillstrom Museum of Art, Target Corporation, Nordstrom Corporation, BMO Harris Bank, LPM Corporation, and Allina Health Center.

James Holmberg

James Holmberg chose to use his Kolman & Pryor Gallery Project Space grant to investigate loss, memory, and transformation through a painting process of accumulation and erasure captured with video and experienced via an app, entitled, “Absence Show,” which is available in the App Store or on Google Play. By so doing, James has married his two interests, art and technology, and has sent his artistic practice in a new direction and taken the next step in his artistic evolution. “The grant has completely given me the freedom to explore some of the conceptual ideas I’ve been grappling with for a long time,” he says.

James’ exhibition, Absence, includes five canvases that James painted, scraped off, washed with mineral spirits, and painted again 12 times, while he was recording the process on video. The ghost paintings on each of the five canvases can only be viewed by downloading the app, “Absence Show,” via a smartphone or tablet. The app reveals the images attached to each canvas, images that now only exist in the cloud.

While the canvases retain the ghostly memories of previous paintings, generating a sense of loss and impermanence with each iteration, they’re also digital assets through which memories remain intact. The exhibition also includes a pedestal on which James troweled all of the paint or content from the canvases. “The pedestal is a collective of all the canvases and paint that was used. It’s a sculpture.” 

“I’m questioning the importance of an image, of a painting, at a time when we’re mostly sharing images via cell phones, which in turn brings up questions about the numbing abundance of imagery. The work also investigates feelings of creative loss, which is uncomfortable and challenging for me,” he adds. “The real core of the show and project is about absence and presence and transition, and the ability to let go.”

James is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where he remains both a mentor and Alumni Board member. He is well known as an abstract painter and long-time artist with Circa Gallery in Minneapolis, and he has had two shows at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Along with his successful visual art practice, James is co-founder of Kinetic Legacy and partner and principal designer at Kinetic Contemporary, the interior design and art consulting division of Kinetic Design Build. James has had a long career in creating physical and conceptual structures that allow a space to do its job most efficiently. Whether it’s designing floor layouts that use color and shape to guide customers through major department stores, building functional closets and storage areas out of the formerly unused nooks and crannies in a client’s home or conceiving of a digital platform to house stories and memories that would otherwise be lost to time, James understands how to create structures that are multidimensional, intuitive, and approachable.

Kelly Jean Ohl

Kelly Jean’s creates intricately carved ceramic artworks that are engaging because the viewer is often able to touch and pick up her objects resulting in an intimate and sensory experience. Kelly Jean will use her grant to investigate enlarging the scale of her artworks to give her the opportunity to create more dramatic interactions with her audience.

Logistically, the physical properties of the clay come into play when making larger sculptural forms. The grant will enable her to take time to research new clay bodies, test clay wall thicknesses, and tensile strength. Kelly Jean will purchase a new electric kiln that will accommodate the larger clay objects she hopes to create.

Kelly Jean will also utilize the time to experiment and explore the scale, size, and installation of her ceramic art. Kelly Jean envisions making larger sculptural objects, wall installations, and a large mobile of 300 specimen/rattle/organic forms, loosely based on her spherical ceramic balls and rattles. This mobile will hang from Kolman & Pryor Gallery’s ceiling on heavy monofilament thread. This will be, for her, a segue from her current work into the larger forms. 

Kelly Jean received a Bachelor’s Degree in both Theatre and Art, as well as a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in ceramics from Minnesota State University.  She also earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. She taught foundation art courses at Winona State University for three years. Her work has been featured and sold in over 70 galleries across 25 states. It is also in private collections in all 50 states and internationally. Kelly Jean’s ceramic work can also be found in public and corporate collections in the US and around the world.

Jodi Reeb

The focus of Jodi’s artwork has always been about the beauty of nature and finding inspiration from nature’s extraordinary colors and light. Although primarily a painter, Jodi has recently begun creating sculptures that reflect some of the shapes, lines, and textures she finds in nature.

For her Project Space grant, Jodi plans to create site-specific art installations throughout the Kolman & Pryor Gallery that depict forms found in nature. In this way she seeks to further understand and discover the natural world. Through the distribution and abundance of objects or “living things” in a physical environment, she will explore the extremes in nature and the nexus of ecology, science, and art. She intends to experiment with new materials that have the ability to be formed to mimic nature such as tape and wire that can transform into works that resemble branches or hand-worked clay that depicts seed-pods.  She will also combine hand-built objects with natural materials such as branches and rocks to examine natural phenomena.

Jodi has been a full-time artist and teacher for over 20 years.  She has taught printmaking, acrylic and encaustic painting as well as book arts. She is a CORE instructor for R&F Handmade Paints and is a GOLDEN Acrylic Paints Artist Educator. Jodi’s artwork has been shown nationally and is in many private and corporate collections including Target Corporation, United Health Care Group, Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis, and Wells Fargo Mortgage in Minneapolis. She was the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in 2018.  Jodi graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) where she instructed printmaking for almost a decade.

Julie Snidle

Although Julie has been painting with encaustic since 2004, she has not created large paintings because of material costs and studio space restrictions. The Project Space will allow her to think bigger and to seize the opportunity to focus her creative eye on a particular type of lichens, known as, xanthoria parietina, as the subject for a series of larger artworks.

For years, Julie has been fascinated by the color, shape, and texture of xanthoria parietina. The bright yellow-orange lichen that cling to the grey rocks along Minnesota’s North Shore and the East and West Coasts are, to Julie, some of the most beautiful. For her project, Julie seeks to learn more about these amazing organisms and to create roughly 50 abstract paintings and install them in the Kolman & Pryor Project Space as an exhibition. In addition to the paintings, Julie envisions this exhibit as an opportunity to introduce the viewer to some basic lichen biology as well as an introduction to the encaustic process.

With a degree in education, Julie taught professionally in the classroom and was a corporate training administrator in Dallas, Texas, before following her passion for art and painting. A self-taught artist, Julie is a Core Teaching Artist for R&F Handmade Paints. Julie has taught at the International Encaustic Conference held annually in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and she continues to teach workshops in her studio and across the country. Julie’s work appears in numerous galleries and in private collections throughout the United States.