Not Sure!? | Rick Love

June 18 - October 18, 2021

Visual Arts Center | Entrance & Contemporary Gallery 

Not Sure!? is an exhibition based on the choice and ability to expand the boundaries of "Art". Come see this multi-gallery exhibition before its gone! 

Artist Statement:
What I think about when I think about art: 
As contemporary western people it is widely accepted that we are enriched with an ever-expanding notion of “Art”. The last 200 years and its perpetual technological, social and political change have laid a distinct path to the present. In many ways “Art” and “Artist” have been freed from the shackles of history and cultural pressure to conform. In many ways the motto of the secessionist has come true "To every age its art, to every art its freedom”. Unlike the classical world, artists today have permission to explore the medium or subject matter of their own choice and with their own volition. However oppressed artists may feel in contemporary culture, being an Egyptian rock engraver for the Pharaoh or a court painter for the King of Spain did not come with our contemporary notion of choice, personal expression and voice. Yet these almost unknown artist works survive and their genius is no less significant due to the fact their materials and subject matter were chosen for them by their culture and the power structures that defined their culture. In Egypt’s case art was nearly unchanged for almost 7,000 years (if you count predynastic Egypt).

Yet, in contemporary life with all its freedoms, the arts and artists find themselves in a strange place. The freedom of choice creates a crisis, a crisis of a lack of power. Thanks to our canon of heroes, giants and rock stars we find ourselves free to express art however we see fit.  Nonetheless the artist's power has been weakened at best, non-existent at worst. This weakness is self-evident in our culture. It is widely accepted that Art is seen as fun and not as important or powerful. Children who express interest in the arts are encouraged only to pursue it as a hobby not as a profession. Ask parents if their children should major in dance! Show a casual non art observer a series of Ellsworth Kelly gradient paintings and 9 times out of 10 you will get an “I can do that or my kids could do that or that’s not art!”

However, not all is lost. Though our power is diminished, artists have the opportunity, if so chosen, to forge a path not seen in any age prior. Art for art’s sake, like past movements, leads to certain death. But now it is up to the artist to find his or her own limitations. Limitations not enforced by the Culture or the Pharaoh or the Pope or the Gallerist, but self-enforced by the individual in relation to our consumerist culture. The choice and the ability to limit oneself is the new freedom and thus the opportunity to rekindle creativity, timelessness and the power of art.

-Rick Love

Artist Bio: 
Rick Love is a Saint Paul, Minnesota-based artist and an Associate Professor of Art & Design at the University of Northwestern, where he teaches traditional printmaking and art history. He works in a range of mediums from masking tape murals to traditional media such as drawing and printmaking. Love’s work has been shown nationally and internationally. His most recent major commissions include a large print project of a tree cut down in downtown Minneapolis for Thrivent Financial and for the University of Calgary’s Biological Sciences department in association with the Lewis Research Group, where he led dozens of participants, artists and scientists, in the creation of a large tape mural called An Exploration in Scientific and Artistic Nations. Love’s passion for art history led him to serve as the Director of Education and Strategy for Sartle, a digital art history database whose mission is make art history fun and engaging for a wider audience.

Several of the pieces displayed in this gallery are available for purchase. For more information, please contact the Visual Arts Center at 605-731-2493 or

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