Lew Minter’s Spirits of the Woods 5.3.10 received second distinction honors at this year’s Intercontinental Biennial of Small Graphic sponsored by the InterArt Foundation in Aiud, Romania. The honor placed Minter, who called the award “a total surprise,” sixth among 132 artists from around the globe.
A digital print, Spirits of the Woods 5.3.10 is part of a series that involves extracting embedded figures from an organic grid that Minter constructed in Photoshop from several photos he’s taken of branches. The figures are pulled from the negative spaces with several images coming from the same grid pattern. The series emphasizes the Native American reverence for all nature, how people do not control nature but must learn from the spirit of each object.
Minter, who is part Iroquois, hesitated to address that part of his heritage in his artwork until a few years ago for fear of inadvertently trivializing Native American art.
“As I studied the culture more, it became clear to me that I have always had an inherent respect for nature that is consistent with Native American culture,” says Minter, who is the director of the art department’s media lab. “I realized that by addressing the observation of nature more directly in my art, I could pay homage to Native American culture and spirituality without trivializing Native American art itself. This gave me the feeling of freedom to finally embrace my Native American heritage in my art.”
For Minter, observation is a vital part of the creative process, which is why he helps his students hone their skills by viewing and discussing his work.
“It helps them see the process in action rather than simply hearing theoretical words,” he says.
This is the second time Minter has been invited to submit work to the Intercontinental Biennial of Small Graphic show. He was included in the inaugural show in 2006, submitting a print from a series that highlighted geometric shapes pulled from a grid constructed of underwater animal and plant forms.
Minter has exhibited his work throughout the U.S. and abroad, and in March 2006, he was the artist-in-residence at the Taipei Artist Village in Taipei, Taiwan. His work can be found in numerous corporate and private collections as well as in museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in Rome, Inter-Art Contemporary Museum in Aiud, and Taipei Artist Village.