Michael StrandFargo, North Dakota

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2011

After 20 years away, Michael Strand has returned to his nordic roots, and lives and works in Fargo, North Dakota as the Department Head and Professor of Art at North Dakota State University.

The journey between his time in North Dakota brought him to St. Cloud State University, where he received his BFA in ceramics in 1994 and his MA in painting in 1996. Michael then spent the next 13 years in Nebraska, where he earned his MFA at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, with, Gail Kendall, Pete Pinnell and Eddie Dominguez. Immediately upon graduation from Nebraska, Strand did a residency at the Fundacio J.LLorens Artigas in Galifa, Spain, the ceramic studio of the late Joan Miro who collaborated with master Spanish ceramist J. Llorens Artigas.

Michael is the former Chair of the Department of Art at Concordia University-Nebraska where he also served as the Director of the Center for Liturgical Arts. While in Nebraska Michael recieved the PRISM award from the Nebraska Art Teacher’s Association for excellence in Secondary Art Administration. Strand previously taught at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska.

Prior to Midland, Michael served as the first Education Director at the Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln, NE, where he established the education program, the residency program, and founded the Art of Fine Craft conferences which continue today.

Recently Michael’s work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Nebraska Art which includes over forty works completed in 2010 at his NDSU studio. Michael also founded Artstimulus.org that houses documentation of his 2010 projects including the gifting of cups to the underserved rural communities of Dwight, NE and Dwight, ND.

Michael’s work can be found in several private and public collections including: Hilton Hotels International, General Mills Corporation, New York, Kirov Ballet Company, Russia, Alleluia! Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Fort Meyers, FL, St. Cloud State University, MN, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the City of Omaha.

Michael is married to Michelle Strand, a physics junkie and educator. They spend much of their time keeping up with their two young sons, Malcolm and Ian. When not in the studio or working with his NDSU students Michael can be found fishing with his sons in the lakes of NW Minnesota, finding solace in the potential of the next cast… life is good with a balance of Family, Faith, Art and Teaching.

Cuplomacy: Form, Function and Mediation

May, 2011 – Residency, Projects, exhibition and lecture by North Dakota artist Michael J. Strand at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge Montana.

The work for Cuplomacy questions and seeks answer to; current relationships between religious and political factions, public and private accessibility in a democratic society, the deployment of art and craft in culture, and craft as a tool of benevolence. These topics are explored through art delivery strategies that create real physical social networks.

Michael approaches all of these processes with the optimism that humanity has great potential to prevail over the destructive divisions that exist in our world today.

“One of the great joys of being an artist is the ability to dream without limitations and then acting on those dreams without the fear of failure. With this mindset I can imagine that a cup could be infused with the spirit of the late Charles Kuralt, branching out into the country to seek out stories waiting to be told, or that a cup could hold the potential of the great Desmond Tutu, and be integral in conversations of mediation. Without practical limitations on function I am free explore how an object can operate as a comforting handshake, a how-do-ya-do in the form of a cup.” – Michael Strand

Michael’s work begins by scrutinizing the function of art and craft in contemporary society. He then develops projects that create bridges of communication that are enabled by the common use and/or distribution of hand-thrown ceramic cups made in his studio at North Dakota State University. These projects then seek to develop a specific history for the objects involved through experiments in conceptual function. Michael straddles a line between journalist, social-scientist, activist and potter.

You might recognize Michael, he is the guy at the grocery store that will find a way to talk to you… whether you want to or not. He simply loves people.