From Winnipeg to Minneapolis to Edmonton, Terry Hildebrand and Miriam Rudolph’s journey together as artists and life partners has taken them to a variety of different places.
Hildebrand, 31, and Rudolph, 32, return to Winnipeg in September for an art exhibition showcasing their recent work. “Tandem: Going Places Together” opens on Friday, Sept. 11 at the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Gallery. On display until Tuesday, Oct. 27, the exhibit includes Hildebrand’s functional ceramics on wooden structures, while Rudolph, a printmaker, will display a selection of thematically diverse prints.
“It’s a fabulous gallery exhibition space,” Rudolph says by Skype from the apartment she and Hildebrand share in Edmonton, where Rudolph is working on her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta.
For Rudolph, who grew up in Loma Plata, Paraguay, before moving to Canada to do her undergraduate degree, displaying work at the MHC Gallery also allows her to maintain connections with her Mennonite roots. “For me, it’s important to stay connected with the community that I call my own,” she says.
Hildebrand grew up near Winkler, Man., and the couple met 11 years ago while studying fine arts at the University of Manitoba. Prior to moving to Edmonton, the couple lived in Minneapolis for two years, where Hildebrand earned his Master of Fine Arts in ceramics at the University of Minnesota.
Hildebrand makes ceramics out of porcelain, with a focus on teapots and cups. He presents his work in groupings, mostly on wooden trays he makes himself.
He began making ceramics during his second year as an undergraduate student and enjoys creating ceramics because of the technical skill and knowledge required throughout the whole process: wheel throwing, adding handles and assembling the pieces, adding decorations and patterns, pre-firing the pots, and glazing and re-firing the pots in a wood or soda kiln, which leaves them with somewhat random surface colouring and melted ash glazes.
“There’s a constant learning and development that I’m attracted to,” he says. “It’s a skill. In ceramics, your whole piece will crack or it won’t work in the end if you’re not conscious about every step that you’re doing.”
All of Hildebrand’s work is functional and invites the user to consider the conscious action of drinking and using a vessel.
“I do like holding a cup in my hand and drinking coffee out of something I made,” he says, adding that the pieces he will have on display in “Tandem” were created over the past two years.
Rudolph will have work on display that was created in a similar time period. One suite of prints consists of maps Rudolph has created of places she has lived in Canada, and another suite maps the Paraguayan Chaco she grew up in, which is changing rapidly due to deforestation.
A third suite included in the exhibit is more autobiographical, dealing with the grief Rudolph experienced after the sudden death of her father in Paraguay last year. He was cycling on a Sunday morning when he was struck by a drunk driver.
“That was really sudden and unexpected,” says Rudolph, who was in the midst of moving from Minneapolis to Edmonton at the time. “I lost my biggest critic, fan and mentor, and I miss him terribly as a discussion partner during graduate school.”
Rudolph says that the common ground her work shares with Hildebrand’s is “the conscious engagement with our environment,” as well as using the work to express what’s most important in life.
“I think that’s what art is about,” she says.
Ray Dirks, curator of the MHC Gallery, says the high quality of their work, as well as their desire to stay connected to the Mennonite community, make Rudolph and Hildebrand a good fit for the gallery.
Rudolph displayed some of her work at the gallery in a joint exhibition with artist Benny Peters in early 2013, and the experience was “nothing but positive,” Dirks says. He is excited to showcase her work again, and to showcase Hildebrand’s work in the gallery for the first time.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of those kinds of ceramics exhibited,” Dirks says. “[Terry] is very intentionally an artist, but also very intentionally creating things that are practical and usable. That is something that is appealing.”
Rudolph and Hildebrand are looking forward to attending the exhibit’s opening at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 11.
“I’m excited,” Rudolph says. “It’s always fun showing our work together, having people come out that we haven’t seen in a long time and seeing the response to the work that we do.”
A selection of thematically diverse prints constitute Rudolph’s contribution to “Tandem: Going Places Together.” (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Miriam Rudolph and Terry Hildebrand met 11 years ago while studying fine arts at the University of Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Rudolph is an accomplished printmaker currently working on her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)
Originally from Winkler, Terry Hildebrand earned a Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus on ceramics from the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudoph)