Erin Asmussen and John Banasiak
March 11 - August 16, 2023
Visual Arts Center | Everist Gallery
The work of Erin Asmussen and John Banasiak is tied together by a shared interest in the surreal, the mysterious and the unseen. By tapping into the subconscious yearnings of humanity, these artists make work exploring the passage between past and future. Through ritualistic practices that include collecting, assembling, photographing and building, these artists act as conduits for greater meaning.
Erin Asmussen makes figurative paintings and sculptures in response to personal truth, daily ritual and earthly observations. The electric covenant she creates in her work is a pact between herself and the Universe. As a conduit to the unseen, Erin’s sculptures and paintings act as a record of the time in which we live. Influenced by Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Tim Burton and H.R. Giger, Erin’s surreal characters and landscapes speak to an artistic lineage of intuitive fantasy and introspection.
John Banasiak’s assemblages and photographs are heavily influenced by mythology, symbolism and personal histories. The act of collecting fragmented artifacts and reconnecting the pieces into a greater whole allows for a more significant level of meaning. Once solidified into altars, shrines or stage sets, the objects are photographed in sections to find a balanced visual dialogue. The resulting images act much like the mystical tarot, telling fortune-like stories into the ether.
Erin Asmussen received her bachelor’s degree in industrial design technology from the Art Institute of Colorado and spent the next several years making mannequins and building theatre sets. She spent several years in Los Angeles working as a stand-in and background actor in television and film before returning to her home state of South Dakota. She lives and works as an artist near Pierre, S.D.
John Banasiak (b.1950) grew up near Chicago in a factory community along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. John received his graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Chicago in 1975 and 1972. After teaching for a year at New York State University Oswego and spending a year at Auckland University and Christchurch University in New Zealand, John accepted a full-time teaching position at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He lives and works in Vermillion to this day. His work is in numerous public collections including the International Center of Photography in New York City and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
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.