ROCK SPRINGS — Several of the art instructors for Sweetwater County School District No. 1 are exhibiting their artwork at the Community Fine Arts Center now through July 29. The Community Fine Arts Center (CFAC) is opening to the public on Monday, June 1, following guidelines of the local health department.
Six art teachers are participating in this year’s final exhibit of the Youth Arts exhibits held each year. While all being full-time teachers in the school district, Jacob Harkins, Jasmine Krueger, Shari Kumer, Amanda Margrave, Halli Riskus and Nathan Wonnacott continue to create their own artwork to display.
Jacob Harkins teaches elementary art and just completed his second year in the district. His current art interests are mainly fantasy and whimsical with a touch of realism. The art he has on display is from his early years, focusing on realism in multiple mediums and disciplines.
“These drawings have come at many stages in my art career. I started with self-reflection and then added in my fascination with the Japanese culture, ending with my desire to step away from graphite and towards media that is less forgiving and unfamiliar,” Harkins said.
Jasmine Krueger is a multimedia artist and teaches at Rock Springs High School. She received her BFA in Art Education and Fine Art from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Krueger’s work focuses on printmaking, graphic design, photography and performance art. She has exhibited in numerous galleries including the Spivak, Rude and Alumni Galleries at RMCAD, 40 West Gallery, ReCreative Denver, and most recently at the Anton Art Center.
From her artist statement, Krueger explained that her work “focuses on the underlying themes of identity, connection, vulnerability and nostalgia. My art making process is cathartic in nature, leaving me feeling a little more whole with each piece I create. The focus of this series was to create self-portraits that reflected pieces of my identity without showing any real images of myself. I chose imagery such as my heart, skull and brain to represent different pieces of my life that I have been reflecting on.”
Shari Kumer is local artist, born and raised in Rock Springs. She earned a BS in Art from the University of Wyoming in 1988. Ms. Kumer has been teaching art in Sweetwater County for over twenty years and currently teaches at Black butte High School.
“I have no interest in copying nature, but I cannot help but be inspired by her,” said Kumer in her artist statement. “I worked from photographs that my sister, Dawn Dale and I took in Southwest Wyoming while creating the Indian paintbrush, Desert Primrose, juniper and sagebrush” found in several of her pieces.
Kumer was inspired to paint the large landscape titled “Hopeful” when she observed the color in the eastern clouds at sunset, “the color was wrapping itself around the entire horizon. That colorful sky made me feel hopeful in the midst of a cold, snowy day when the forced isolation of COVID-19 was really starting to affect my mood.”
Amanda Margrave is completing her tenth year at RSHS, and this was the fourth year teaching art. Previously she taught reading and English as a second language. Amanda received her BA from the University of Wyoming in art and art education and her MA from UW in curriculum and instruction and reading. She is a Wyoming native originally from Kemmerer, and is married with two children.
Margrave’s paintings and drawings focus on beauty in unusual places or finding beauty in the ordinary. Her ceramic artwork is an exploration of the media itself and the different methods of construction to continually improve as a ceramic artist and teacher. She coaches the girls’ team for Sweetwater Lopes Lacrosse Club. Besides art and lacrosse, her other hobbies include running, biking, backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, gardening, and “having a beer on various patios during the summer.”
Halli Riskus has been teaching art in Rock Springs for 23 years and am currently teaching at Rock Springs Junior High. She is “a wife, mother, hiker and outdoors woman.”
Both in her artwork and her artist statement, Riskus explains the call of the outdoors to her.
“I have a love for all things nature with an emphasis in the quality of water. The abstract and symbolic nature of water has become my new muse and I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the possibilities with acrylic paint. Most of my paintings come from times I have spent in the mountains of Wyoming enjoying the God given beauty we have here,” Riskus said.
Nathan Wonnacott teaches sculpture and graphic art at Rock Springs Junior High. He graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2015 with a concurrent Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Art Education. Over the past two years, he has been focusing on learning new media such asacrylic pouring and new digital artwork applications. The theme of his artwork over the past few years has been based on his time exploring nature and recording his personal experiences.
“As I continue traveling throughout the mid-west I look forward to continuing my experience with art in its many forms,” Wonnacott said.
The CFAC, along with the Sweetwater County Library System, is currently open with limited hours and services.
“We ask for the public to practice social distancing and safety concerns while visiting. The permanent collection owned by the Sweetwater County School District No. 1 and a small display of artwork created during the recent closure by CFAC staff Diana Metz and Gwendolyn Quitberg, and myself, are on display as well for the public to enjoy,” said Debora Soule’, CFAC director.
Hours at the gallery and county libraries are Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 6 pm, Friday 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturday noon to 4 pm.