Every week, The Mac Weekly sits down with a senior arts major. This week we caught up with studio art major Emma Klajbor. She hails from Tucson, Arizona.
What kinds of art do you make?
Lately, I’ve mostly been doing printmaking because of my senior show. I do a lot of relief printmaking, which is when I print using the surface of carved wood or linoleum blocks. My other interest would be painting. My first year course was Painting I, which was a cool opportunity to do things I hadn’t done before. In high school, I was focused on doing really realistic paintings. Taking painting here was really freeing and a lot more open.
Also, I’ve been doing a lot of fiber stuff on the side. We don’t have a fibers program in the art department, so a few people have dug up some looms from the basement and we’ve created an informal group that meets once a week. We started out with wool that we dyed, and now we’re spinning it into yarn.
What do you most enjoy about making art?
I like putting beautiful things into the world and sharing them with other people. I think art is a lot more accessible than other forms of sharing information. Just by looking at a piece of art, people can take away what they want to take away from it. By creating something, you get to connect with other people because they have an emotional response or relate to it in some way.
What themes do you express?
Appreciating nature is a big theme in my work. One of my goals is to make sure that people are able to look at my art and appreciate all the beautiful things that human beings share and experience.
What’s your creative process like?
My creative process starts with working through a lot of bad ideas before I settle on one that I like. For example, in the fall, I had a really clear idea of what I wanted to do for my senior show. It was a sculptural project about creating a space in the shape of a cocoon for people to walk into. I feel like the gallery setting is kind of crazy and overwhelming. I wanted to created a closed-off space within that chaos to go inside and have an individual experience. Although I experimented with a lot of different materials, I realized I didn’t feel very connected to the medium. From there, I had a few ideas that I did feel like working on. I started doing sketches and checking out books from the library for source images. But as I got closer to my senior show, I worked through each of those ideas, and I didn’t feel like they were really what I wanted to share with people. Through that process, I came to my final idea that I really like. Once I feel good about an idea, it goes pretty quickly from there.
What did you decide to do for your senior show?
My senior show is all about the moon and how it fosters a sense of place and belonging in everyone’s lives. The moon has always been something in my life that I’ve just thought is totally breathtaking. The idea is that there are intimate moments between me and the moon that other people experience on a daily basis too. The moon is present in everyday life, and no matter who you are or where you are, you’ve seen it. It’s a shared human experience.
I have three woodcut prints; each one is a scene of the moon in a different aspect of my life. The first one is the moment when you look up and you see the moon through the clouds, the second is the moonlight through my bedroom window and the third is the moon when it’s just barely visible during the day on the drive home from work. Each of these prints is accompanied by a print of a line of text.
I’m also making a book that was influenced by my time spent at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. When I decided not to do sculpture, I was having a hard time with the fact that people couldn’t physically interact with my art. It was important to incorporate something that people could physically look through and touch. The book doesn’t have any text, and each page is a different phase of the moon. I’m using it as a summary of the moon’s presence and long-lasting nature: how it’s changing in a really cyclical way. Each time you look up at the moon it’s a different phase, and these phases become markers of time in your life. I wanted my book to reflect that passage of time.
How are you involved in art at Mac or elsewhere?
I’m a co-chair for Art Alliance (a student organization). We publish a student art magazine every spring. We also host a drawing co-op every week, during which a lot of people from the community come and draw a figure model. In the past, we’ve done various creative events, and this year we’re face painting at Springfest. I enjoy being involved in Art Alliance because it’s a way to make art more accessible for people who do art on their own but don’t take art classes.
I also volunteer at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, which teaches classes about paper making, different printing techniques and bookbinding. I started out with an internship creating the “Winter Book,” which is an annual publication. That really influenced my decision to do printmaking instead of sculpture for my senior show. I was struggling with sculpture, and I had a much more personal connection with the process of printing on paper and feeling it. In addition, my experience at the Center for Book Arts has opened my eyes to a network of creative individuals in the Twin Cities. Even though there’s so many different kinds of art being practiced, many of the local artists know each other, and it’s a tight-knit community.
Did you study abroad?
Yes, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy at SACI, which stands for Studio Art Centers International. I went to SACI because they offer a lot of courses that they don’t have at Mac. I took batik, which is when you paint on fabric with wax and then dye it. It was really cool to work with fabric and textiles in a new way. I took a graphic design course as well, which was pretty life-changing because my teacher was amazing. Also, it was really cool to explore the city. Since it is such a touristy city, it encouraged me to look for ways to escape from that a little bit. I enjoyed finding specialized shops like fabric shops and a bookbinding store.
What are your interests or hobbies besides creating art?
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about majoring in studio art? Take as many art classes as you can with as much variety as possible. Just have fun in those classes and experiment with different mediums and ideas. Don’t feel afraid to try new things.
I like cooking, reading and getting out and learning things about the place where I live. I like going to national parks and art museums. I also like crafty things like sewing and knitting, which is art, but often people don’t think of it that way.