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Giverny of the Midwest: A Conversation with Artist Nathaniel Stern

with Bonnie North on Lake Effect
Artist Nathaniel Stern speaks with Lake Effect’s Bonnie North about his use of scanners to create beautiful images.

Nathaniel Stern’s intensity is palpable. The media artist always has multiple bodies of work going on simultaneously, he’s a Fulbright scholar, a professor of art, a parent.  Talking with him, you get the impression he never stops thinking about, or exploring, art and life.

Stern’s current exhibition at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is called Giverny of the Midwest. The work has had previous exhibitions in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, but this is its first stop in the United States. The scans are a nod and homage to the Impressionist painter Claude Monet…if Monet were painting his lilies while immersed in the pond rather than sitting on its banks.

Nathaniel Stern, detail, Giverny of the Midwest, Digital print installation, 2011, Lent by the Tory Folliard GalleryCredit: Musem of Wisconsin Art.

The work is technological, thought-provoking and unexpected. And although his work has been compared to photography, Stern would disagree. “It’s probably closer to print making.” He continues that as opposed to the objective distancing you get in photography, “where you’re looking through [a] lens and seeing what you’re capturing, (with this work) it’s more that you’re on top of or a part of your medium,” says Stern.

When he isn’t scanning his environment, Stern is an Associate Professor of Art and Design in Peck School of the Arts at the UW – Milwaukee.

Related artworks: Giverny Remediated, The Giverny Series, Giverny of the Midwest, Weather Patterns, The Mist
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