Megan Trautman

In the Garden

August 25-September 16, 2016
Artist Talk Friday, September 2 - 5:00 pm McC 365
Artist reception to follow.

Growing up on a farm in small-town North Dakota taught me the importance of hard work, process, simplicity and nature. Farm life requires my dad, a farmer and rancher, to complete various step-by-step processes to achieve positive results. For my dad, a productive process concludes with healthy cattle or a high-quality crop. For me, successful results look more like a crisp clean print or a light balanced ceramic vessel.

Spending much time outside while growing up also gave me the opportunity to notice the simple beauty of nature. I never tire of taking photographs of the colorful flowers my mom plants every summer. After finding inspiration from artists such as Polly Apfelbaum and Michelle Forsyth, I discovered, flowers are something I’m always sketching or working into my art, which made them the perfect subject for my senior exhibition.


The repetition found in farm life made printmaking a very comfortable, relaxing process. While working with various plexi-plates, I complete the same tasks, in order, over and over to create a series of prints. After transferring a sketch onto the plate using a dry point method, ink is applied. The ink settles in the scratched lines, while the excess ink is removed by rubbing paper over the plate. Once the plate is wiped clean, damp paper is laid on top and then rolled through the press, resulting in a sharp transferred image.

I have recently been aiming my focus on size, shape and relationship. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved working with beads, tiny seed beads in particular. My knack for working small found its way into the ceramic studio as I began to make miniature bottles, bowls and pitchers. Later, I began to accessorize the small ceramic works referencing my childhood obsession with beads. It’s important and special to me to add pieces of my childhood into the art I create today.

Brock Drenth

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Artist Talk Thursday, March 10, 5:30 pm in McCarthy 356
Artist reception to follow.

Brock Drenth was born and raised in Jamestown, North Dakota. He received his BA in Fine Art from the University of Jamestown in 2005, an MFA from the Academy of Art University in 2011 and, a BSED of Art from Valley City State University in 2015.

Drenth’s paintings are like an exchange between the artist, the subject and viewer – a conversation about the underlying facets of the object under observation. For inspiration, Drenth looks to contemporary artists like Andrew Wyeth, Lucian Freud, and Wayne Thiebaud, and to past masters like Vilhelm Hammershoi, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and many others.

Drenth has received numerous awards and was featured in FASO publications and Hollywood Highlight.

Tracy Melendez

The Department of Art is proud to announce the opening of Solicitude. The Exhibition by artist Tracy Melendez consists of a series of watercolor paintings.Tracy Melendez’s work addresses issues confronting females from insecurity over body image to domestic abuse and sexual identity. The work is meant to depict the trials and tribulations that many of us have a perspicacious understanding of and even firsthand experience.

Tracy Melendez is a practicing artist living in Fargo with her husband and two daughters. She has received both a BFA in Art with an emphasis in Illustration and a BS in Art Education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Tracy is both a member of the Red River Watercolor Society and the FMVA. Currently, Tracy is working on her MFA in Painting at the University of North Dakota. She has been working for the past eight years as an art teacher at Fargo North High School.

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Sage Dawson

The Exhibition by Sage Dawson consists of a series of works on paper and three-dimensional objects.
Sage Dawson is an artist examining dwelling rights, land use, and the identity of spaces. Her work investigates and interprets sites and objects, and documents the production and destruction of space.

Recent exhibitions were held at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston University, the City University of New York, and the International Print Center New York. Her work has been featured in Elephant Magazine, From Here to There published by Princeton Architectural Press, and reviewed by Lori Waxman for 60 wrd/min art critic and at Hyperallergic. Sage is a recent recipient of the Denbo Fellowship at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, and is a 2015 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award nominee.

Index an Exhibition by Sage Dawson runs through
October 12 – Nov 6, 2015

The McCarthy Gallery is located on the third floor of McCarthy Hall and is open Monday - Friday, 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM.


Helen Otterson


Valley City State University Department of Art is pleased to announce the opening of Propagation. The Exhibition by artist Helen Otterson consists of a series of ceramic sculptures.

The Exhibition runs through August 31 - October 2
The McCarthy Gallery is located on the third floor of McCarthy Hall and is open
Monday - Friday, 9:00 am-8:00 pm.
Artist Talk September 2, 4:30 in McCarthy 356
Opening Reception to follow 5pm-6pm

The Department of Art will be hosting a workshop by Otterson at the VCSU Ceramic Studio September 29, 2015 2pm-5pm.
Please stop by the ceramic studio, Otterson will be demonstrating throughout the day.

Helen Otterson is a professional artist and teacher. Exhibited throughout the United States and Internationally, her ceramic and glass sculptures are part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Nicolaysen Art Museum, and the Plains Art Museum. Her work has been published in Lark Book’s 500 series: 500 Sculptures, and 500 Figures.

Helen holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Miami and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. Otterson has been an Artist in Residence at the International Ceramic Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary, A.I.R. Vallauris, France, Contemporary Craft Museum, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center. She has taught at University of North Dakota, the Kansas City Art Institute and Florida Atlantic University. Currently, Helen teaches ceramics and sculpture at North Dakota State University.

Hayden Swanson

Undergraduate Senior Exhibition

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Hayden Swanson is a ceramic artist from Valley City, ND who focuses on figurative sculpture that reference cartoon animations. Hayden grew up in Fargo, ND, but at a young age moved to Valley City, ND where he attended high school, and currently attends college at Valley City State University.

Hayden expresses his voice through his work by creating hand-built ceramic sculptures influenced by his childhood and the interactions he had growing up in his neighborhood. Hayden’s work reflects his past experiences of playing sports, watching cartoons, and spending time with the friends he made along the way. It is his goal to show the viewers these moments by making them everlasting artifacts in the form of sculpture. By preserving and sharing these specific moments in time, he is able to allow viewers the ability to reflect and make their own personal connections to his work, based on their own experiences.

Please join us, at the McCarthy gallery for a reception on April 16th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Free and open to the public.

Molly Wicks


Valley City State University Department of Art is proud to announce the opening of Alternative Paintings. The Exhibition by artist Molly Wicks consisting of a series of colorful painted structures.

The Exhibition runs through March 2 - April 6
The McCarthy Gallery is located on the third floor of McCarthy Hall and is open
Monday - Friday, 9:00 am-8:00 pm.
Artist Talk Tuesday, 12:30 – 1:30 in McCarthy 257
Opening Reception Monday, March 2, 6:00-8pm

The Department of Art will be hosting a workshop by Molly at the VCSU Painting studio Tuesday 2pm-4pm.
Please stop by the gallery and see this vibrant art work.

Molly Wicks received a MFA from Washington State University in Painting.

The work of Wicks explores subtractive form and the ghosts of color. Working from sedimentary layers, fungus, and mold forms, then applying paint to the cuts provides an organic grid whose holes and back refract into shadow harmonies, guided by the austere dimensionality of the elevated panel.

As well as the focus placed upon color with the refractions and shadows, a large emphasis is placed on the color painted within the cutouts. The precise painting of these interior spaces creates areas of color vibration, tension, and harmony. These relationships are studied in hopes of generating visual compositions that evoke sound.
Past biology and music, Molly has been influenced by her studies in Chile and Côte d’Ivoire during her BFA at the University of Minnesota, her time at the residencies Art Farm in Marquette, NE and the Vermont Studio Center, her students, and her children to name a few.

Olen Hsu


The Exhibition runs through January 12 - February 27, 2015

The McCarthy Gallery is located on the third floor of McCarthy Hall and is open Monday - Friday, 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM.
Artist Talk Thursday January 15, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM in McCarthy 257
Opening Reception Thursday, January 15, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

The Department of Art will be hosting a workshop by HSU at the VCSU Ceramic studio Thursday January 15, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM.

Olen HSU received a MFA from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a BA in History of Art and Architecture, minor in Music from Yale University.

Olen Hsu is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Dedalus Foundation, the AIM Program at The Bronx Museum of the Arts (New York), the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Program, and the Turbulence Commission from New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.  His work has been shown at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York.

Olen established a home and studio in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where he now lives. 

Artist Statement

I'm interested in quietness of form.  Weighted or taut, languid or drawn, I enjoy how the slightest undulation of a rim or lip can suggest a mood in something as plain as a cup or bowl or plate: a subtle wavering, in silhouette, might give breath and vulnerability and strength all at once.

I wheel-throw with porcelain for its slowness and for its pleasure, and thrown the porcelain thinly, waiting for the gentle personality of a pot to show itself.  I'm drawn to a particular plainness: one that offers mystery because it seems there's something else contained there in that empty space, something not entirely understood by words.

And so with glazes, too: milky, or waxy, or stony-or perhaps like a shell, or bone, or water, or skin-sometimes with the boldness that brilliance or darkness brings, if a form needs bright rose or emerald or the blackest black to assert its particular voice. But often the glaze is only a suggestion of a color, barely there, revealing, hopefully, something else in use and touch, maybe even tenderness.

Office Information

Art Dept. Chair & Assistant Professor of Art: Angela Mircsov
Administrative Assistant: LaDonna Anderson

Department of Art
McCarthy Hall 3rd floor (room 359)
Valley City State University
101 College Street SW
Valley City, ND 58072

Phone 800.532.8641 x37310 or 701.845.7310
FAX 701.845.7104