Common Oasis

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Minneapolis – Saturday, January 24, 2015, 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. – opening for the collaborative, multi-media exhibit Common Oasis. Installation artist Rachel Andrzejewski and painter Krista Braam create space to soothe the winter-weary soul with vibrant color and immersive wonderment. Together they transform Gamut Gallery into hallowed ground, offering those of varying devotional backgrounds a common area for reverence and joyful refuge. Andrzejewski’s large-scale response to Braam’s vivid works becomes a shrine to being deeply present in the moment. Their carefully assembled environment employs sacred symbols from diverse origins to spur interaction, as gallery visitors choose an image to add to a fiber and wood tree installation. The meticulously selected branches are adorned with brightly colored yarn woven throughout the exhibit, leading the viewer into face-to-face moments with found object assemblages and Braam’s concentrated pieces.

Braam paints with gouache, similar to watercolor but with opacity. She works quickly, combining her technical training with an unrestrained process that adds a vibrating energy to her paintings. Her small-scale works evidence a life being fully lived and enjoyed. She encapsulates moments of serenity that might otherwise slip away, creating permanence for joy despite life’s struggles and inevitable end. In response to Andrzejewski’s concepts, some symbolic imagery has found its way into Braam’s new series. She also takes her detailed work to a larger scale and ventures into the third dimension.

Andrzejewski’s installation is designed as an antidote for lonely hearts or anyone struggling to find connectivity amid daily challenges. She hand-carves stamps to print the varied spiritual symbols, which are selected based on “human spirituality, not necessarily religious, but based on things that draw people together.” Every salvaged branch and potent object is repurposed with intent to give new life to things that resonate as precious to her. While each artist approaches the exhibit from their own unique point of view, their collaboration invokes a strong synergy, allowing for personal reflection. The overall effect is an oasis of warmth and hope at this stark time of year, when it is needed most.

Rachel Andrzejewski is a sculptor/ installation artist; she often incorporates bookmaking, printmaking, drawing, writing, lighting and interactive elements into her designs. In 2014, she exhibited with her collaborative installation art studio “1/3 Space.” In 2013, she created a blog/ installation/ community presentation project: Entangled/Untangled, with fellow 1/3 Space founder Victoria Carpenter, at the invitation of MN NISE. Prior to this, the pair had lead a collaborative of thirteen artists, the “Friemily,” curating two exhibitions. In 2010, Andrzejewski graduated from Bethel University with a studio art degree, and exhibited in several group shows. She has exhibited nationally and has had various internships and residencies, including a semester long immersion in New York city at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies.

Krista Braam is a painter/ visual artist. Her work is a display of everything she finds fantastic about the world around us, while tying in elements of fiction to create imaginative scenarios. From a young age she was taught the trade of fiber arts from her mother, Lorie, which has found expression in her recent explorations into installation art. She has a 2012 degree in illustration from the College of Visual Arts, where she took part in a variety of group exhibitions and interned with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in South Minneapolis.