The South Dakota Art Museum at South Dakota State University will open its newest exhibition, “Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space,” with a free public reception and artist talk from 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21.
Stuart will speak at 6 p.m., discussing artworks featured in this six-decade retrospective curated by Taylor McKeown, South Dakota Art Museum curator of exhibitions and collections, and museum director Donna Merkt. Seating for Stuart’s talk is limited; free seat reservations can be made from the museum's website, on Eventbrite, or by calling 605-688-5423.
“Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space,” open from Oct. 14, 2023, through March 30, 2024, gathers artworks from the artist’s professional career spanning more than 60 years. It includes many of her paper pieces, sewn canvas works, scrolls and an installation. In addition to works from the South Dakota Art Museum Permanent Collection, the exhibition features many pieces from Stuart’s personal collection and from the New Mexico Museum of Art and a private collection from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Stuart’s approach to artmaking relies on experimentation with painting materials and forms, often breaking from the standard rectangle and concepts of framing. She has lived and worked in diverse regions of the United States but called South Dakota home from 1972-1994, during which time she was professor of visual arts at SDSU. She now resides in Santa Fe.
An exhibition catalog will be available showcasing the works in the exhibit along with essays by Leda Cempellin and MaLin Wilson-Powell, as well as a March 2023 interview with Stuart by Mary Anne Redding. The South Dakota Humanities Council provided support for the catalog, which will be free to visitors.
“This exhibition is a celebration of Stuart’s rich body of work and her legacy in South Dakota and beyond,” Merkt said. “Her tremendous impact as an artist and art educator during her long tenure at SDSU, and the innovative work she has been creating during her decades in Santa Fe, make this a special exhibition for the South Dakota Art Museum, our visitors and the many students of all ages who will experience Stuart’s work for the first time.”
“The South Dakota Art Museum is pleased to host this incredible 60-year retrospective, to offer our deepest respect and gratitude to Signe and her husband, Joe, and to celebrate Signe herself as an event in time and space,” Merkt added.
Under Stuart’s tutelage, budding artists grew and thrived, many having notable artistic practices in South Dakota and beyond, such as landscape painters Dorothy Morgan (Brookings), Tom Thorson (Custer) and assemblage artist Eric Ritter (Brookings).
“Stuart’s artworks in the South Dakota Art Museum Permanent Collection span decades yet provide fresh inspiration with each viewing,” McKeown said. “Likewise, the artworks in our collection by artists she taught demonstrate her influence across generations.”
During Signe’s years at SDSU, her husband, Joe Stuart, served as director and curator at the South Dakota Art Museum. Together they developed a powerful legacy for visual art on campus, within the community and extending to the farther reaches of the state and the region. This is a legacy that continues today. Their generosity led to the establishment of the Stuart Artist-in-Residence program directed by the School of Design in the SDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. This program, now in its ninth year, brings a national or international artist to campus each fall to create art alongside SDSU students while providing art learning and engagement opportunities for the students, faculty and community.
The museum is also honoring Stuart's contributions as an art educator with two companion exhibitions. “Succession: Artists and Their Students from the Collections,” now on display through Jan. 27, 2024, celebrates and offers thanks to all educators who, like Stuart, generated ideas and inspiration in their students.
Later, while Stuart's exhibit is still on view, the museum will open an exhibition featuring artists who have participated in the Stuart Artist in Residency program at the SDSU School of Design, which will highlight Signe and Joe Stuart's ongoing impact on today's students.
Support for ‘Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space’
The exhibition of “Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space” and corresponding education programs are supported by many donors, including premier sponsors Venance and Deborah Lengkeek and the South Dakota Humanities Council, together with Reyna Martin, Dr. David and Patricia Meyer, Dorothy and Jim Morgan, the SDSU School of Design, SDSU Office of Academic Affairs and SDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Significant operational support for the South Dakota Art Museum is provided by SDSU. Additional support is provided by the South Dakota Arts Council (with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism and the National Endowment for the Arts) and museum members and donors. The South Dakota Humanities Council is an affiliate program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
About the South Dakota Art Museum
Since 1970, the South Dakota Art Museum at South Dakota State University in Brookings has been a destination for people from around the world to enjoy the artistic legacy of South Dakota in all its diversity. With a vision to serve the diverse peoples and communities of the state and its visitors as South Dakota's premier visual arts resource, its mission is to inspire creativity, connect people and enrich lives through art.
The South Dakota Art Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is located at 1036 Medary Ave. in Brookings and is open daily, except on state holidays and Sundays from January through March. Admission to the museum is free. Parking is also free in the museum’s reserved lot just west of the museum on Harvey Dunn Street. For more information, call 605-688-5423, email the museum or visit the museum website.