Art Student Studies in Iceland
Aimee Odum at work on one of her latest creations in the Nes Artist Residency studios.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas department of art has several students in residencies around the world this summer, allowing them to stretch their learning environments by immersing them in different cultures. Many of these opportunities are funded by competitive scholarships through the department.
First-year graduate student, Aimee Odum, is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics. She was recently awarded the M.F.A. Project Grant, making it possible for her to travel to Iceland for the Nes Artist Residency.
“Aimee has really expanded her work into a more intellectual and critically challenging level,” said Jeannie Hulen, chair of the department of art in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Science. “Her experimentation has created a much more interesting engaged thoughtfulness that seems to be moving in a great direction.”
Odum’s experience provided a good starting point for her to develop a theme for her work. After reading many books and articles about relationships that people have with one another as well as their experiences with objects and environments, Odum found her common thread.
During her time at Nes, she has been researching how different environments affect the human experience as a way to gauge the connection of individuals with landscape.
“Iceland has been the perfect place for me to perform this type of research since the landscape is so drastically different than what I am used to seeing,” said Odum.
Odum did not bring any materials with her on her two-month journey. Instead, she planned to use whatever she acquired in the area.
“This challenge has been a great way for me to explore new ways of working with different materials,” said Odum.
She has used scrap pieces of metal and plastic to create structures for paper mache and paper pulp. She has also used several other materials such as latex, plaster, string, shoe wax, rope and local dirt.
In the sculptural forms pictured, Odum references a human presence by either a body orientation or a texture of material. The use of local dirt or clay alludes to the landscape and a sense of surrounding. Odum is revealing the relationship between these two things by the way they are positioned and connected.
“Adapting to another country’s culture, studio environment and small town community has felt incredibly influential for my artistic development,” said Odum.
Working at the Nes Artist Residency has given Odum time to process all of the things she has learned at the University of Arkansas and allowed her to gain a better understanding.
Odum said the benefits of moving her artistic practice to an international residency continue to build as her days at Nes accumulate.
Nes Artist Residency began in 2008 in the remote town of Skagaströnd to provide students the opportunity for international exchange, artistic cross-pollination and an open possibility for collaborations.
Six incoming students have been named Bodenhamer Fellows, earning $72,000 each in fellowships for education, research and study abroad.
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