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My work blends sculpture, installation, and architecture. Often the work refers to books for both structure and content. These disciplines allow me to develop ideas about space and human experience: public and private, presence and absence or loss, revelation and concealment. No matter what the medium or form, I begin with the concept, and work with materials that will best support the idea.

In the past few years I have collaborated with architect,s most often MS&R, on large-scale public art/architecture projects: designing light rail train stations for the Minneapolis Hiawatha Project and the grand staircase as sculptural book at the Open Book Center. In all cases, I am critically interested in how the formal and conceptual elements of the work affect or dictate the experience for the viewer. The formal elements of architecture and public space such as light/shadow and compression/expansion of volume are not designed solely for visual effects, but also to direct the physical and conceptual experience.

On differing scales, those issues are the same in my books and installations: Scale and proportion affect body relationships; materials invite touching; spatial arrangements guide movement. Where there are objects and sound in my installations, there is image and text in a book. The interaction of the viewer with the materials, structure and composition all adds layers of meaning. The merging of space and viewer, perception and experience is my ultimate goal.

The pleasure of conceptual development, the joy in the making, and the temerity to get it out there have led me to explore new directions with confidence and wonder.

Wirth’s dynamic leadership experience made her the prime candidate in MCAD’s search for a Chair of Fine Arts. She will bring her working knowledge of all areas within the Fine Arts as both a studio practitioner and an educator to this position. Her six years as chair of Fine Arts and two years as Academic Dean at CVA have undoubtedly prepared her for the challenges that await her at MCAD. She has strong ideas about curriculum and art education.

A contemporary curriculum must balance tradition and innovation. Traditional discipline-based teaching provides a strong cohesive education that allows students to make informed choices. A contemporary curriculum must also address changes in the field, as art moves increasingly into a global, interdisciplinary practice. It is in the migration between that effective change happens. A curriculum is a living thing. Fluid thinking and creative problem solving, both as an academic leader and in cooperation with the department faculty, enriches the program and strengthens it in times of flux.

I believe that a successful art education must include multiple approaches. It should provide a grounding in aesthetics and composition, technical skills, exposure to a wide range of materials, conceptual development, critical thinking, creative problem solving, historical background with a contemporary outlook, and connection to the broader art and social communities. I also believe that being an artist is a gift and a privilege. I encourage students to have passion, commitment, and a vital understanding of what they do and why.

Alumni Art-E-Facts Newsletter,
College of Liberal Arts,
University of Minnesota, Fall 2003