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Artists explore memory through mixed media at Ripple River Gallery

Artist Karlyn Atkinson Berg art piece titled "Sky High to Shanghai," is a mixed media collage that will be displayed in the “Audacities of Memory” at Ripple River Gallery near Bay Lake. Exhibit opens Wednesday. 1 / 2
Memory 1, a mixed media figure, created by artist Brenna Busse will be among the artwork displayed in the “Audacities of Memory” at Ripple River Gallery near Bay Lake. Exhibit opens Wednesday. 2 / 2

Memory, imagination and mixed media. This is what happens when artists let their materials open the doors of connection and possibility.

Artists Karlyn Atkinson Berg and Brenna Busse explore "Audacities of Memory" in a new exhibit at Ripple River Gallery near Bay Lake. The show, which features Berg's hand-cut collage and mixed media paintings and Busse's mixed media figures and assemblage, opens Wednesday and continues through Sept. 14. The public is invited to meet the artists at a reception from 2-4 p.m. Aug. 23.

For her collage work, Berg searches for visual meaning until a finished piece finally emerges.

"A single color or shape may spark an entire composition," she said. "As I collect materials, they seem to connect individually or in groups. From those materials, I begin to seek an interaction in space and form. Each added element will build on the previous one by changing, adding, or even eliminating the other components.

"Knowing what to remove becomes as important as knowing what to add to the work. Some compositions blend in harmony, while others create discord that is both exciting and unexpected. Not all the works are harmonious or beautiful."

Berg uses a variety of mediums and materials for her work: Pastel, airbrush, acrylic, silkscreen and woodcut, printed images on paper, wood and gesso surface combined with collage.

"The intention of the work is a visual experience and, like the words of a poem or song, should leave you with an image and emotion," she said.

Author, artist and creator of several books, Berg lives in Bovey. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design with additional study at Pratt University and New York University, she has also served as design consultant for exhibits at museums including the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Using mud, rags, sticks and "stuff," Busse creates "figures of imagination."

"In my process, materials are the guide and source of inspiration," said Busse. "Mixing the media is about letting the materials speak and express their unique aspects. The challenge is bringing them together to form a whole, yet allowing each material its own integrity.

"I am reclaiming and transforming the doll tradition, which was such a large part of my girlhood upbringing."

With clay transformed by fire, Busse forms head, hands and feet for her figures. Using cloth and stitchery she imagines a body "to honor the beautiful imperfection of humanness," attaching sticks as symbols of strength and growth. She adds other found materials as needed.

"I appreciate the rich meaning and beauty in a smooth rock, a plum pit, a seed pod or driftwood bleached by sun and water," said Busse. "My intention is to communicate and inspire.

"Using materials as metaphor, I share my celebration of the beauty of nature, faith in possibility and the sacred quality of daily life. I value nature and the earth's resources, so my work incorporates recycled and found materials. I believe in the transformative nature of beauty."

Busse, who lives and works in Minneapolis, has been making figures for more than 20 years and shows her work at galleries and arts events across the Midwest.

Ripple River Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information call 218-678-2575 or email