wWhether large or small, Daniel Kerkhoff’s creations are guaranteed to provoke deep thought and are made with conservation, if not durability, in mind.
“I never measure time when I’m working,” said Kerkhoff, a 1983 Mankato West High School graduate and son of retired local teachers Don and Sandy Kerkhoff.
“It would be like knocking a clock if I thought about it.”
Instead, this traveling visual artist with a positive, laid-back approach tends to go with the flow while incorporating newsprint, office paper, found objects, dirt, and even trash into art forms. digests labeled with intriguing and sometimes provocative titles.
“Titles are an important part of overall art,” he said.
Until Saturday, Kerkhoff’s exhibition, “The Least Among Us,” fills the spacious galleries of the Carnegie Art Center in Mankato. Featured are his mixed media collage paintings depicting different periods of his life to date as an artist.
The exhibition groups Kerkhoff’s creations by room and place. For example, in the Hope Cook Gallery is Kerkhoff’s “Degenerate Art Series”, which is a commentary on the Degenerate Art Exhibition the Nazis organized in 1937 mocking modern art.
And the Fireplace Gallery is home to Kerkhoff’s works “The Quiet and Ugly Artist Series,” which he created during his 2016-2018 art residencies in Hanoi, Vietnam, and took home in a suitcase.
An exhibit shows found objects he describes as treasures – including a cigarette wrapper, a broken zipper, an empty chewing gum wrapper and a discarded toothbrush – collected during a mindful walk through the city from Hanoi.
“The way he turned pieces of everyday life into art is a testament to the beauty that surrounds us but we often don’t see,” said Mankatoan Valerie DeFor, a classmate of Kerkhoff who has seen the show.
“And looking into the main gallery, two of the pieces reminded me of quilts – other objects made from leftovers and turned into something new, like Daniel does with his art.”
While Kerkhoff maintains a studio at his parents’ Good Thunder property and is frequently found in the Mankato region, a largely nomadic existence during his adult life meant he traveled the country and the world, learning and sharing his art and artistic perspective in every community. landed.
After initially studying at St. John’s University in Collegeville and earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Minnesota, Kerkhoff interned at Minneapolis book publisher Milkweed Editions. Although offering him access to interesting manuscripts and notable authors like Bill Holm, the position convinced him that he was not well suited for a desk job.
At one point he lived in New York for seven years, where he studied drawing, painting and collage at the Art Students League of New York.
Kerkhoff pursued additional artistic training in San Francisco, Kuki-shi, Japan, San Gimignano, Italy and Kumasi, Ghana.
He also taught English in Japan, and in 1995 joined his childhood friend Garry Creel on a two-week trip to Vietnam – the first of several times he has been there.
“Vietnamese people are super cool, friendly and kind.”
After completing artistic residencies in Ghana and Ecuador, he began to consider doing residencies on each continent. He hopes to achieve this one day, with the goal of making every place a home and connecting and sharing with communities.
Her method of residency involves integrating into each community while creating art and art installations, curating exhibitions, making art with children, and working with other artists.
“I usually stay for nine months the first time I’m in the community, which is similar to a rebirth for me and also symbolic of creation,” Kerkhoff said of his residency process.
“I didn’t plan for this initially – it was more about visa requirements – but like so many things it became symbolic through serendipity.” Kerkhoff aspires to future artistic residencies in Europe and Australia.
Kerkhoff’s artistic fires were lit in art classes at Mankato West, though he says his evolution into an “artist” happened “more like a way of life and a vocation and less like a career.” .
He remembers with fondness his inaugural participation in an exhibition, as part of a 1982-83 group exhibition at the Carnegie Art Center.
“I ended up getting an honorable mention.”
He thanks the late Hope Cook, an art professor for 35 years at Minnesota State University and director of the Carnegie Art Center from 1982 until her death in early 2022, for her support.
“I am forever grateful to Hope for all of her hard work, vision and legacy at the Carnegie Art Center,” Kerkhoff said. “It’s because she encouraged me to do a solo exhibition a few years ago that I have this solo exhibition today.”
During the pandemic, Kerkhoff exhibited at Project 410 on South Front Street. Her art has been exhibited in numerous galleries in the Twin Cities and other venues across the United States and around the world. He has also worked in the Twin Cities, spurring projects such as the Star Mural at 21st Century Academy in North Minneapolis.
“Throughout my life, I’ve had many experiences working with children,” Kerkhoff said, mentioning that early in his career he was a paraprofessional in high school in San Francisco, an early childhood educator in New York and a week-long resident at Mankato West in early 1991. with the late Professor Kris Lindvall contributed to his interest in youth and art.
“Plus, I just enjoy the art of kids, combined with their lack of inhibition and intuitive, unique approaches to art.”
Added to the visual aspect of Kerkhoff’s work is the written word; consider titles such as “Inflated Power”, “The Insignificant Is Significant”, and “Voter Suppression Again”.
Yet Kerkhoff maintains that he is not trying to convey any particular messages through his art.
“What I hope is that people will have an experience with my art, take the time to look at it,” said Kerkhoff, who slows down to observe the world, its inhabitants and the objects around it. part of his artistic practice.
“I hope questions will arise for them that will make them see things differently.”