How to See: A Dialogue Between Landscape and Imagination

How to See: A Dialogue Between Landscape and Imagination

Artwork by Molly Noem Fulton and Tom Dempster

Now – April 27, 2024

Visual Arts Center | Bates Trimble Gallery

This series of work was born out of the spirit of collaboration between two artists that understand the prairie. Tom Dempster and Molly Fulton are South Dakota based artists working in their respective mediums of photography and acrylic paint. Together these collaborative “photo paintings” speak to an expression of what lies beneath the visual senses of the landscape. As Tom said to Molly, “My photographs are going to show you what things look like. I want you to paint on the photographs and show me what’s really there.”

This series embodies the stillness of the grasslands and hillsides of South Dakota. As Molly says, “This stillness is often referred to in my family as ‘the silent minute.’ Through various connections to land and the encouragement to be outside, we became aware of the silence the landscape provides. We have come to value stillness and allowing ourselves to listen to the land.” 

This “stillness” is clearly at play in the connection of photograph to paint. What Molly adds through paint connects the image to the past, to motion, to pattern in the natural world and to the briefest moments shared with those who’ve gone before us.

The landscape of South Dakota has a special dialogue with us if we let it. In this silence there is a connection to our deepest imagination and a way of seeing beyond the visible. These photo paintings by Molly Fulton and Tom Dempster bring that imagination to the surface.

Sponsored by: 
 SD Arts Council        

South Dakota Arts Council support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Molly Fulton

Molly Fulton is a South Dakota based artist. Her paintings and mixed media works explore the people and places that shape us, forming our identity and values. She works predominantly in gouache and acrylic marker, using repetitive shapes and forms to reflect on individual, familial and societal identity and values.

A graduate of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, followed by a Master of Arts degree in instruction from Saint Mary’s University, Winona, Minnesota, Molly and her husband, Neil, live in Vermillion. Their three boys keep the house bubbling with action, and she has chosen to spend her time observing and participating in that action while exploring and growing her art practice.

Tom Dempster

Tom Dempster is a Director of IFAM Capital and a native of Sioux Falls. He served in the South Dakota Senate and the Minnehaha County Commission. He is a University of South Dakota graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He and his wife, Patti, are parents of three daughters, each married to a man they admire and love. They relish their nine grandchildren.

Tom is the photographer of Behold, and the author of North of 12th Street, a finalist for Foreward Review’s book of the year. His work has appeared in international, national and local media and in solo gallery exhibitions. He hosted Dakota Heroes, a South Dakota Public Broadcasting documentary earning a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom also provides political commentary on Political Junkies, a South Dakota Public Broadcasting program. Tom’s involvement with Rotary, in politics, as a sailor and as a photographer has taken him to many continents and countries throughout the world. Tom has served as chair of the Avera McKennan Hospital board along with many other non-profits. He is one of the founders of the Levitt at the Falls.

Tom is working on a new book about the prairie and the sea. His grandfather was a fisherman in Norway’s Arctic Lofoten Islands, as was author Ole Rolvaag, author of Giants in the Earth. He recently was one of six sailors who sailed a 46-foot sailboat across the North Sea into the Lofotens so he could experience the oceans and seas of his grandfather and Rolvaag.