Rhonda Dass Creates Cloud-Shaped Art

Rhonda Dass’ featured exhibition “Tangible Transformation: Change in Interchangeable Times” is now on display in the Central Student Union Art Gallery at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The gallery includes oil paintings, classic pen and pencil drawings, and a growing work of art in the midst of it all that students, staff, and visitors can also add.

Dass explained that the pieces that are in the gallery have been in progress since the start of the pandemic.

“All of the pieces that are on display are from what I call my COVID period. They were created over the past two years, during the pandemic, and these are things that have brought me joy during this time” , shared Dass.”[The pieces] were something to distract me.

In order to transform everyday life into precious works of art, Dass drew inspiration from a few artistic styles in Asia. They explained how they took an art course in Islamic arts that inspired their pieces. Another piece in the collection was inspired by looking at how far Oriental art from China traveled along the Silk Road.

“I saw this beautiful morning sky where the clouds looked bruised. It triggers something in me, and I can’t get over it until I put it on paper or on canvas,” Dass said. “This kind of stylized image of clouds came from China, and I took that technique and kind of turned it into a kind of tattoo style.”

Of the pieces they created for this gallery, Dass loved many. However, their favorites include the biggest drawing they’ve ever done, which is displayed on a wall, and an interactive cloud artwork.

“Even though it was difficult to get it out, it made this piece more valuable to me. I think the Cloudscape that I created from student papers is probably my favorite,” Dass said.

Dass took student papers, shredded them, and repurposed them into new materials available for the interactive part of the gallery. The recycled paper was then cut into cloud shapes that gallery visitors could write or doodle on. The papers will be part of the piece hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room.

Art is an undying passion of Dass’, and they said it kept them sane.

“It’s the part of my brain that works no matter what’s going on with the rest of me,” Dass said. “It’s still there. They `re my best friend.

Dass also likened the presentation of his art to “sending a child out into the world”.

“You expect people to be nice to him, but you also expect them to teach him something to shape him his way,” Dass said.

Dass hopes people will take advantage of the gallery to appreciate the artworks that portray the beautiful side of nature.

“Especially with these pieces, it’s about finding beauty in everyday life. Things that we may not think are valuable can turn out to be very valuable and very beautiful.

The CSU Gallery is open to the public during construction hours and will be on display until March 25.

Header photo: One of Rhonda Dass’ interactive artworks features shredded student papers that have been turned into clouds. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to: Lilly Schmidt at [email protected]

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