Watkins Gallery explores mental illness through art


Shannon Galliart

A view from the second floor of the Watkins Gallery into the “Anda Tanaka Printmaking on the Prairie” exhibit. The exhibit will be featured at Winona State from January 10-31 and is open during the weekday.

Lauren Gennerman, Features Reporter

Located in the Watkins gallery until Feb. 1, Winona State University’s art and design department is hosting Anda Tanaka’s monotypes exhibit.

Her monotypes, or a single print taken from a design created in oil paint or printing ink on glass or metal, are focused around the intersection of anxiety and the Midwest landscape.

“In my work, I deal with anxiety from different angles. I explore it from an analytical point of view, thinking about its causes, effects and the feeling itself as I experience it in my body,” Tanaka said. “I am drawn to making landscapes that utilize negative space and abstraction to create visual quiet and a feeling of expansiveness.”

Art Gallery Coordinator Roger Boulay was especially excited to see Tanaka’s work come to Winona State. After doing a call for art entries to show in the gallery, Tanaka’s portfolio of work stood out.

“We [art and design department faculty] try to select artists from a variety of media that we think are models for professional work for our students as well as artists with engaging ideas that could be interesting to students across the university,” Boulay said.

When asked why he specifically chose Tanaka, Boulay had many areas to highlight in her work.

“Anda’s work stood out because it’s very technically precise…Her work is also appropriate for Winona State because it’s very invested in exploring the Midwestern landscape, which she is using as a metaphor to grapple with anxiety, which is an important issue for students here. This is a truly unique approach to talking about anxiety,” Boulay said.

Tanaka shared more aspects of her work and how she creates it.

“Environment affects the maker,” Tanaka said. 

“For some, this is evidenced by materials used, for others, hues chosen. For me, there are two opposing elements of my environment that affect my work: the buzz of anxiety in myself and the humans around me, and the centering Midwestern landscape in which I choose to live.”

In addition to having her artwork shown, Tanaka will be the focus of an artist talk in the SLC 120 to explain the work in the show, as well as a reception on Jan. 17 starting at 4 p.m. All students on campus are welcome and encouraged to participate.

“It’s crucial to experience different art forms as part of living a rich, full life,” Boulay said. “Hopefully this can help you see the world as well parts of your own life in a new way. That’s one of the things visual art can do.”

Boulay advises students, faculty and community members to “go in with an open mind,” as much of Tanaka’s work is a less literal interpretation of the Midwestern landscape than may be expected.

“Be ready for a lot of color, shapes, and purposeful repetition,” Boulay said. “You’ll be intrigued.”