Upcoming Exhibits - Octagon Center for the Arts

Upcoming Exhibits



Opening reception: January 27 from 5-7 PM

"My soft and colorful installations create a comfortable and playful environment for viewers to experience in an intimate way. We associate comfort with fibrous materials – things that are soft to the touch, wrap us and keep us warm. Where play is usually associated with childhood and is an act that allows us to do several things such as relax, learn, challenge, discover, laugh, smile, achieve, and connect.

'The repetitive processes of wrapping, binding and sewing generate ideas for spaces in which the art will live and grow. I am attracted to obsessive-like processes that create varying units, or modules, that together complete the finished work. Repeating a process generates learning and exploration of different possibilities for the end result – this is what I call “play.”

'My work challenges traditional notions of art by inviting viewers to interact and connect with art in a gallery setting on a personal hands-on level. In creating a comfortable environment with dramatic and theatrical elements I encourage viewers to have an extraordinary experience." - Sara Nieland

See more on her website >



Now accepting submissions for our national All Media show. Click here for more information.



Iowa State University MFA exhibit



Image: Reflections by Jessica Shimek

Jessica graduated in 2003 from the University of Minnesota with my Bachelors of Fine Arts. She studied book arts and printmaking at Minnesota Center for Book Arts as well as many talented friends. Jessica continues to learn, create, and make images every day.

"My photography work is based on a Cyberpunk world introduced to me by the author William Gibson. Cyberpunk is a genre of science fiction set in the future, focusing on all encompassing smart technology and life in the outer rings of society. It was William Gibson’s idea that a complete world, a coded landscape, can be created and “lived in” by a human’s avatar while their physical form remains in the analog world. These coded realities can be whatever that person wants to see, and can contain bits copied over from the analog world from multiple locations and times in history." - Jessica Shimek

Digital Dreams of You is made using photographs taken with medium format film which is scanned to digital images, which are then layered in Adobe Photoshop. The artist also uses printmaking processes including the Photopolymer Photo Gravure process. This medium creates a print that looks more like a traditional photograph than a print, but retains the ability to layer multiple images together into one piece. This show emphasizes the human touch, layered images created around homes, objects, and structures.


Deeply Rooted



Deeply Rooted, a juried exhibition organized by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), explores the meaning of “roots” through the quilt medium. Thirty works are featured, all created by SAQA members from Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. SAQA, founded in 1989, is an organization of more than 3,000 fiber artists devoted to the education, exhibition, promotion, professional development, and documentation of the medium.

Pat Bishop, “Cedar Swamp #5” Fused and machine quilted, hand-dyed linen and other materials, silk and silk ties, commercial fabrics, 2015, Collection of the Artist

Kawishiwi River


ON DISPLAY October 6 - November 11, 2017, COMMUNITY GALLERY

AaronSquadroni, images from Kawishiwi River
Copper drawings from Kawishiwi River by Aaron Squadroni

Artist Statement:

"The Midwest is presently a battleground for resources. Fracking, oil pipelines, mining, and drilling are just some of the expanding industries in this region. In states like Minnesota and Wisconsin where the rugged beauty of the land is part of the state’s identity, these new industries create strong conflicts between environmental and industrial stakeholders. In northern Minnesota, the Duluth Complex is a geological formation bordering the Mesabi Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It contains one of the largest untapped copper‚Äźnickel deposits in the world. Industry representatives estimate that the new sulfide mining district could eventually exceed Minnesota’s iron ore industry in size. The issue of whether or not to establish sulfide mines so close to a protected wilderness known for its pristine water is a passionately debated topic on the Iron Range.

'The Kawishiwi River flows over the Duluth Complex, and is at the center of the region in contention as mining companies are in the process of obtaining permits and conducting environmental impact studies in order to mine the area for copper, nickel and other precious metals. The Kawishiwi River series is a collection of copper drawn land portraits. These land portraits record a history of landmarks and sacred spaces based on traditional legends, government treaties, current disputes, and future visions. My intention is to create continuity where great changes have occurred in the landscape or are likely to occur in the future. Each portrait merges an image of the landscape with a symbol or object from the landscape. This catalog of imagery is meant to heighten public awareness about how the future of the Kawishiwi River will take shape, while simultaneously preserving its identity in the past.

'Copper has been contained in the rocks of the Kawishiwi River for many thousands of years. It is now highly sought after by mining companies. Using copper as a drawing meduim is important to me in this series because of its role in the history of the Kawishiwi River and its impending impact on the river’s future. Copper also has a certain delicacy due to its lack of value range. The resulting lightness of the drawings require the viewer to approach close to the image. A narrative of the Kawishiwi River is revealed slowly and formed from a series of intimate exchanges between the viewer and the artworks." - Aaron Squadroni

Anda Tanaka & Jeremy Rudd

November 3 - December 22, 2017 SWEENEY GALLERY


Artist Bios:

Jeremy Rudd: A native Iowan, Rudd grew up in rural Benton County thirty minutes outside Cedar Rapids.  He attended Iowa State University receiving a BFA in visual Studies with an emphasis on Three Dimensional Design, and completed his Master of Fine Arts at the CVPA of The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.  He was a Professor of fine arts for four years at Lasell College, Boston MA and Bristol Community College, Fall River MA.  Since returning to the Midwest  Rudd has  worked as Assistant Professor of Art for divine word College in Epworth, IA, and worked as a professional artist completing many liturgical, private and commercial projects. 

Anda Tanaka is a visual artist and musician living, working, and playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in Ames, Iowa and often draws on childhood memories in the creation of her work. Remaining connected to the Midwest is one of the most vital aspects of her life as an artist. At St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, Anda studied Studio Art and Music and fell in love with the Land of 10,000 Lakes. After graduating in 2012 she spent one year as an Emerging Artist Resident at St. Olaf before moving to Minneapolis to start her art career. Anda spends as much time as possible outdoors all year round running, biking, cross country skiing, and collecting experiences.


© 2016 Octagon Center for the Arts. All rights reserved.