"Iowa Seen"

by Barbara Fedeler and Thomas Payne
Center for Faith and Life
September 4 - October 16, 2009

Barbara Fedeler

Barbara Fedeler is an associate professor of art and current department chair at Wartburg College. She earned a bachelor of arts from Drake University and a master's of fine arts from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions, most recently Iowa Artists 2008 Drawing at the Des Moines Art Center Downtown; the MacNider Museum in Mason City, Iowa; Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Concordia University Art Gallery in Irvine, Calif. Her work can be found in the corporate collections of John Deere; the Iowa Clinic; the University of Northern Iowa; and Iowa State University, among others. She has had residencies at the Virginian Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Va. and The Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Ill.

Artist's Statement

“The palpable reality of objects in space and the effect of light upon this reality is exciting to me. I am skilled at translating this seen reality into a two dimensional version, using willow charcoal and blending stump, fingers and kneadable rubber eraser on rag paper. I enjoy the drawing process; it is physical, with the record of the physicality visible in the marks, it is contemplative in the layering and transforming building process, and seeing the work-in-progress is a birthing of an idea into a reality.

I am an Iowan; born, raised, educated, left briefly-and returned, and I believe Iowa is a land of beauty. I love the land, and if I had been born a male, I would have chosen to farm the land. I love walking the land, cultivating the land, and know its value as resource. I strive to achieve the aesthetics of beauty in my work, hoping to inspire the seekers to re-see the beauty around them. The drawings reflect a small area of NE IA, where the topography reflects less glacial activity with hills, wooded ravines, and winding roads following river valleys or hilltops. Most of the sites are within 3 miles of the Volga River Valley, in Fayette or Clayton counties. My family still lives in this area, and it is full of history for me. It is an ever changing landscape, with land use practices and seasons determining the character of the views.

I find my views early in the morning and late in the day, when the sun creates strong patterns of shadow. I document with photographs, and work from sets of photographs in the studio. The drawings are built with willow charcoal, from upper right to lower left, and rely upon layers of marks, blending, erasure, and each takes between 20 and 30 hours of time. The Coates willow charcoal and Coventry Rag paper encourage flexible manipulation and a variety of effects.

Drawing is a part of my physical and emotional well-being. I have always drawn, and find great satisfaction in sharing how I see with you.”

-Barbara Fedeler 

Thomas Payne

Thomas Payne is a professor of art at Wartburg College. He earned his B.A. at the University of Oklahoma and his M.F.A. at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught at the university level since 1980 and for several years also owned and operated his own commercial photography studio, specializing in architectural and advertising photography. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY; the Des Moines Art Center; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the MacNider Museum in Mason City, Iowa. In 1996 he won one of the three top awards at New Voices, New Visions, an international competition in digital media, and in 1998 he received a Communication Arts Award of Excellence.

Artist's Statement

“Several years ago I traveled across Iowa over the course of six months. In part, this was to figure out the identity of the state —what it means (or what it should mean) to live in Iowa. Toward this end I read histories and descriptions of the state, talked to others, and thought about it while I drove (and drove). I know, the whole notion is a little naive. The other part of these travels was to photograph the state—to give my honest impression as an outsider who has lived in the state for the past fifteen years.

What I came up with were three distinct sets of photographs which each addressed a different aspect of the state and my impressions of it. But something was missing...

Iowa is not a beautiful state, at least not in the way I think of things, but it sure is a pretty state. The cool breeze after the sun sets, the storm clouds flowing above the corn and soybeans, the grain elevators standing sentinel over the towns. That was what was missing from my sets of photographs—the aspect of Iowa as a pretty state. Surely in my travels I would have photographed something pretty. I searched through thousands of my photographs taken along the milestones of over 450 towns I had passed through. What I found were some of the photographs displayed here. What first began as a finite project has turned into an ongoing pursuit. A number of these photographs date back to those first travels, and some were taken very recently.”

-Thomas Payne

2009-2010 Barbara Fedeler and Thomas Payne