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On the blog: "I Don't Remember," an installation series by Karri A. Dieken

March 26, 2013
by Ann Porter, Art Professor, Black Hills State University

On Sunday, February 3, Masayuki Nagase came and gave a workshop at Meier Hall on the campus of Black Hills State University. Even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, community members, faculty and students turned out in impressive numbers. Clearly, the interest in the Rapid City sculpture project extends well beyond the city limits.

For those of you who are inspired by Nagase's work and are out looking for further artistic adventure in the Black Hills, I have a suggestion. It's easy to remember the Dahl or to look into the various galleries in the area. They're wonderful and not to be missed. What we tend to forget is that we also have one of the best creative incubators going. It's an enormous laboratory for budding artists, home ground to professionals and it displays exciting work year round. It's open to the public and it's free. Welcome to the Spearfish campus of Black Hills State University.


You just missed a great show at the Ruddell Gallery in the Student Union:  History of Things to Come, 605 Artists. The work featured was the artists' most recent work, as in, "This is what I'm doing right now and I want to see how it looks hanging up." What could be more fresh and exciting? There were seven different artists with South Dakota ties, and in the interests of full disclosure, I was one of them. I'd like to devote this post to another one of the artists from that show: Karri A. Dieken, Adjunct Professor of Art at BHSU.

Karri A. Dieken grew up in the badlands region of the Midwest, inspired by the landscape, heritage, craft and the handmade. She earned her BSED in Art from Black Hills State University in 2007 and a MFA from Washington State University in 2010, where she studied printmaking, sculpture, and photography. Since 2007 her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, New Zealand, and Germany.

Dieken's work in the Ruddell, "Your History 1960-2010", was from the "I Don't Remember" Installation Series. These installations are stories of life experiences as seen through domestic interiors, but they reconstruct the events in a way that may or may not have actually happened. In each work historical or vintage items have been replaced by replicas hand-made by the artist, thus bringing the past tense into the present moment.

As Dieken says in her artist's statement, "The work addresses common issues of placement, self-awareness, use and loss of, emptiness and uncertainty. Each installation is composed of images that are hand drawn then translated on to the chosen media using serigraph printing. The development and creation of my work involves handmade or hand crafted labor-intensive processes, molding, sewing, printing, and constructing. I am interested in the contrast between my upbringings within an environment of handmade "quality" and the transition of my current way of life with in a readymade society of the mass production."

"Your History 1960-2010" begins as a poignant memorial to Dieken's father with intimate details of his beard, his fingerprints, his suitcase obsessively and lovingly repeated. This time-based piece was built in the gallery over three weeks and consists of several elements. There is wallpaper designed and printed for the installation, and relief prints of her father's fingerprints cascading out of his suitcase, which is resting on a small, blue, faded table. The table is sitting on a hand sewn multicolored rug that is an appliquéd image of his fingerprint enlarged.

This is clearly a memorial; there is a strong narrative component and the artist is saying goodbye. The details themselves, however lovingly crafted, are not as important as the idea of the story—almost anyone's story, really. I think this piece addresses larger issues of connectivity, how our relationships are woven together. The images of electrical outlets on the wallpaper and the screen-printed extension cord images spilling out of the suitcase along with the fingerprints beg us to take another look at how we fit together with those we care for.

This deeply moving piece, along with other work created by Dieken can be viewed online or A new installation will be created an on display later in the year at the Frontier Space in Missoula, Montana.


Although you may have missed this show at the Ruddell Gallery, there are many more to see and enjoy at BHSU in the coming months. The Student Union Building is home to permanent installations on all three floors as well as home to the Ruddell Gallery on the second floor. The Ruddell will be featuring a Juried Student Competition and the Senior Exit Exhibition in the coming months. Also in the Student Union are stained glass pieces going up in the Skywalk in April and a large collaborative painting from beginning design students.

For photography buffs, the Photographer's Gallery in the basement of Jonas Hall will be showing Senior Photography students' work and there will be photography in the Mezzanine of Meier Hall as well.

The Library Gallery (in the Library Building) is devoted to student work and will be home to abstract black and white paintings from design students in addition to photos of outdoor installation projects from sculpture students. The Library Gallery has three sections: The Stairwell Gallery, Jacket Java and the North Wall.

Woodburn Hall has two venues for art viewing: the President's Gallery on the second floor and the Art Department itself on the third floor. The President's Gallery is showing Nancy Brown paintings and fabulous Ukiyo-e woodblock prints from 19th century Japan. These prints are part of the collection of Professor Emeritus Dick Hicks and Rita Hicks. The Art Department on the third floor of Woodburn has an ever-changing display of student works in progress.  By the end of each semester, the hallway is full to bursting with promising and inventive work—you never know what you might find.

Parking is free to visitors as long as you get a parking pass from the campus security office in the basement of Woodburn Hall. Visitor parking spaces are designated for your convenience. Visitor parking is indicated by yellow signs throughout the campus. Here's the link to a campus map.

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