Naturalness + Simplicity
encaustic, mixed media on panel
©Natalie Salminen Rude
“I believe this need of wilderness is inherent in most of us, even those seemingly farthest removed from it by civilized living. The cities may cover it up, make us forget temporarily; but deep underneath is an inherent urge for naturalness and simplicity and a way of life different from the one we know.” – Sigurd F. Olson
Culture of Sensitivity | encaustic, mixed media on panel 11×14 2021 ©Natalie Salminen Rude
You’ll find my first body of work after a year’s pause, Freshness of Perception, at Fika Coffee in Lutsen, Minnesota, during the months of July and August 2021. As I wrote the show’s artist statement, I was glad for the cohesion of so many ideas I’ve been ruminating on this year. Not only have I not painted this past year, but I have also taken a year’s break from social media and the “hustle.” What spaciousness. ( I’ll be writing more on that to be sure. )
The new show’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness imagery and the paired quotations (from Minnesota conservationist Sigurd F. Olson) work in tandem, as you’ll see. I hope you can make your way up the lovely north shore to take in these artworks, 16 new paintings in all (!) and taste the goodness that Fika Coffee serves its community.
AND if that wasn’t gift enough, Fika asked the director of the Grand Marais Art Colony, Ruth Pszwaro, to write a piece on the show for their blog. I had the pleasure to sit down with her and chat about the new work and much more. Pszwaro’s gift of writing is inspiring. You can read about our interview and soulful conversation here.
Turned to Gold | encaustic, mixed media on panel 8×10 2021 ©Natalie Salminen Rude
FRESHNESS OF PERCEPTION
new encaustic work set to the wisdom of Sigurd F. Olson
There seems to be an amorphous spirit in the air these days that gets quite agitated when it is not able to quantify the things of this world that can only carry human sensibilities. Take for instance a trip into the wilderness or a sit to watch the extraordinary horizon of our big lake. There is no data to be mined from a weekend of woodland play, joyful sunset watching, or the lifting of mist from silent waters. Whatever things cannot be easily quantified in our human experiences are being ever so subtly suppressed. Have you noticed?
I propose that the work before us is to enter into our very human experiences of adventure and feeling which cannot be counted, measured or monetized. Together, may we resist all that strives to strip us of our humanity, all that works to convert the spirit into something quantifiable. Cold data we are not. We are living beings – created to be in harmony with the natural world and with one another. Enjoying, being, resting and playing alongside whatever our good labor may be.
This is why the work of local nature writer, conservationist, and advocate Sigurd F. Olson continues to call to us even more so today. His prophetic work and perseverance in the face of opposition is why we are able to enjoy our north country today. He reminds us of our need to be “nourished again” by the natural world, without which we lose our dignity and purpose, especially in light of the ever shifting demands of our data-driven and technocratic societies. Deep within nature we will always find true meaning. As a former canoe guide in the BWCA, I know firsthand what the unquantifiable things of the wilderness can gift us with. May these paintings bring you a “freshness of perception” as you consider delighting in all that cannot be quantified. Here in the quiet woods, where value is placed on your presence alone.
At Times on Quiet Waters | encaustic, mixed media on panel 16×48 2021 © Natalie Salminen Rude
Update! Has a year passed since I’ve closed the studio? Just about. I’ve been thinking since then…pulling my pressed-to-the-glass face back so that I can see, aching for the big picture – that we’ve somehow lost sight of, especially this year. I’ve been largely away from all things digital/social media. I have been present with those given back hours – spending them on my children, on walking daily, on planting fall bulbs, on being quiet. How refreshing it has been. To stop and think. To refrain from consuming with such intensity. To slow. To consider what has been consumed. To turn a thought, over and over.
I’m ready to begin working again. I’m setting up a new studio space. We will see each other soon! Sunshine and fresh faces.
“Courage is the ability to cultivate a relationship with the unknown; to create a form of friendship with what lies around the corner over the horizon – with those things that have not yet fully come into being.”
– David Whyte
As my brick and mortar shop is closing, an inventory clearance sale is in order! Shop online and on my instagram stories over the next few days.
SALE runs May 6-10th, 2020.
Help me spread the word! I’ll be taking some time off this summer to rest and to listen for what’s next for me. There will be more original work coming in time – this I know. At this point in the Covid-19 journey, I have decided to sell my current inventory and have no immediate plans for re-ordering note cards or haiku prints. Please stock up if you are able!
THANK YOU for your continued support and for championing the arts and artists like myself. You make the creative world go round. As I embark on a new artistic journey (read about how I made the decision to close Studio Haiku here), I would love to have you stay close. I’ll send out an update as the unfolding and resting in the unknowns continue…
I have so many great things in the studio…prints, framed and unframed, original encaustic paintings, small sculptures, walnut vases, cards, haiku cards and other printed goodies…reach out via email or dm on instagram if I can be of any help. xo
Haa Haa Black Sheep emerged as I struggled to make sense of a bittersweet conclusion I had reached. It was time to close my beloved brick and mortar art studio, Studio Haiku.
It was in processing the closure that this piece emerged. Sadly, I had not been able to create anything for most of the previous nine months, as a confusing and stress-fueled weariness had earlier in the year overtaken me. With all my commitments, my energy had been divided and my creative energy was suffering to say the least.
As the image came into being, it was clear that I was dancing with a misplaced shame, a black sheep if you will. This shame haunted me with many accusations, whispering vehemently, “If only you were smarter, savvier, had more energy, were more organized, more clear-headed, more goal oriented, data driven, professionally minded, more ____ (fill in the blank), then you could make this all work!” But my body was telling me a different story. A bone-deep exhaustion had crept into my being. I knew I needed rest, but I just wasn’t sure exactly how to. Over the winter I longed to give into the invitation, but the expectations I had been holding up for myself were keeping me from the surrender I desperately needed. I wrestled myself into a depression.
It was apparent that I could not “do it all” – parent my three children, be a supportive spouse, friend, family member, community member, church member, volunteer, artist, retail shop and studio owner, and social media manager – without sacrificing my health and creative spirit. As I began to say yes to rest and reflection, and as I began to say no to busy-ness, and as I began to stay home in order to quiet myself (pre our governor mandated stay-at-home order), a generous space was made for clarity. And it was clear. What in the world had ever possessed me to think that I could actually do all of those things AT THE SAME TIME and still hold onto my sanity? Where was I getting this message that we, especially as women, should be able to do all the things – and do them well? The clarity was painful. I had thought myself immune – surely I was outside the grasp of our hurried societal evils – I led haiku workshops on mindfulness for goodness sake! But with space and time to help me see and listen, it was obvious that I had fallen for the lie. The pervasive societal and capitalistic pressure that says we are what we do and if we do more, then certainly we must be more. What a myth.
As the composition unfolded, the black sheep (symbolizing shame and depression) was initially being carried on the shoulders of the child (myself), but as I continued to work with the piece, the black sheep migrated beneath the feet of the child and a victor’s pose emerged – “Haa Haa, Black Sheep!” I would no longer be under the grind culture spell. As many elements of the piece found their place, I realized that Psalm 23 had been guiding the imagery. This psalm had accompanied me throughout the past year as I walked through the valley of the shadow of depression and weariness. The child’s sweet innocence speaks to my being a child of God, and to my recent, fresh invitation and acceptance of that truth. God takes care of me like a loving parent that cares deeply for their small child, like a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine in search of the one. The flowers in her hand bring to mind a continued innocence as she hunts for and finds beauty, wonder and provision, “in the presence of her enemies (our cultural obsession with production, efficiency and the marketplace).
The black encaustic doilies are a reference to the felt failings that shadowed my daily life in domesticity as well as in my artistic and business practices. Though the black background refers to the “valley of the shadow of the death,” the moss and gentle garden beneath the child are a gratifying expression of rest, referenced in the first verse of the psalm “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” This is the rest that was inviting me. This was the rest that was calling me, luring me with hibernating butterflies and fallow, winter weeds. This is my path to follow. Closing the studio is the about following this path, strange and upside down and business backward as it may seem.
The angels above the child refers to God’s consistent reminder of the angels in my life, and my invitation to call them in prayer to their work of ministering to the children of God. Lastly, the star ceiling. My healing came in the night. Months of prayers and pleas from family and friends led to golden bowls of prayers tipping in fullness during a March night. I awoke the next morning with a Lightness in the very center of my chest, replacing the crushing heaviness that had previously tormented me with sadness and despair. I was given a true miracle in my body, a true release. True rest from the absurd shame. So much unfolding! So much becoming.
Deciding to close the retail component of my studio has been the bittersweet, yet strangely courageous choice to simplify my life for the sake of my health and ultimately my artistic practice. Looking into the future, I believe my decision today will be the absolute best thing for my creative essence to flourish. The fact that this art work was born from that decision is the first beautiful bloom in what I hope will be the garden of my life’s most meaningful work. Though much of the symbolism carried in this diorama speaks to the facets of shame that I wrongly carried, more so it sings to the pivotal freedom and truth I have been gifted in a crystallizing exchange.
Psalm 46: 4-11 MSG | These verses have also felt like companions to this piece and this season of my life. God plants flowers and trees all over the earth and also bans war, destroys weapon. He is tender, nurturing, and protective as a provoked mother bear. As the nations rant, God is giant and steady. He is all the comforts of a safe-home, a haven for the weak. He nourishes us with the most tender beauty for our dangerous journey. Today, amidst the global pandemic of Covid-19, these words weave promise directly into the unknown. As we find ourselves in lock-down with uncertainty lurking, we are invited to be still and know there is protection and peace for us. Beauty and certainty are in the unseen. The end of violence is near. The trees will soon clap their hands. We are invited to rest.
“River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us. Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.”
It was a joy to be able to share my new body of work, mono no aware at Lizzards Art Gallery in Duluth, Minnesota. Thank you to everyone who came out! The show runs from August 8th – September 28th, 2019. The artist statement truly reflects the spirit of the work. I hope you enjoy it.
Mono no aware is the Japanese term for the wistful awareness of impermanence. At the passing of all things, a gentle grief may be present, but the accompanying wistfulness is what heightens the appreciation for what is beautiful, even if transient. In this new body of encaustic work by Natalie Salminen Rude, the sense of mono no aware is present in these poignant images of the natural world. They are moments composed. In pairing down the imagery to their essence, Salminen Rude composes visual haiku with each painting – distilling the ephemeral essence within the landscapes and botanic compositions with color, line and empathy. Landscapes familiar to our northern region resonate with season, horizon lines, moments of dusk, patterns in light, tree and pond edge. Mono no aware travels further into Salminen Rude’s resonance with the Japanese aesthetic, as she continues to find it deeply harmonic to her sense of the world.
To see the full body of work from mono no aware click here.
UWS | 125 years
Join the University of Wisconsin-Superior in celebrating their 125th year!
Group Alumni Show | Kruk Gallery
June 11, 2019 | 5-8 pm
I’m pleased to be showing my most recent sculptural work, featuring hand drawn plat maps of Duluth encased in encaustic – now artifacts. My artist statement considers this: Technology as Conquistador.
when we’re overthrown
please take directions
encaustic, hand-drawn plat map artifacts, found objects, dried botanicals, 23kt gold leaf
June 4, 2019
Opening 5-8 pm
Duluth Art Institute
bare efficiency / currency of greatest worth / conquistadors know
Strata Show Artist Talk – Duluth Art Institute, April 2019
human flourishing // are we paying attention // extermination
when we’re overthrown //
values illuminated //
please take directions
when we’re overthrown / values illuminated / please take directions
MORE DETAILS FROM THIS SERIES FOUND HERE
Hi, everyone! I’m currently preparing to host a thought-provoking, awakening conversation at my gallery. Studio Haiku is welcoming Libby John of the Art & Faith Conversations podcast for a live recording of “Life in Haiku.” With this podcast Libby will ask questions and explore the joys and challenges of how art and faith intersect in life as we talk about the art of haiku through interviews, stories and sharing experiences.
Update // We had a wonderful time together! It was a full house and much fun. This podcast is now up. Here’s a lovely description from the Art and Faith Conversations Episode Notes:
“This live podcast episode was recorded at Studio Haiku in Duluth, MN. My guest, Natalie Salminen Rude, is a visual artist who specializes in encaustic style painting and has also been practicing the art of haiku for several years. We talk in depth about the invitational nature of haiku that can lead us into conversations with our Creator. Natalie shares with us how it has informed and influenced her creativity and also shaped her prayer life. Haiku has shown Natalie the value of pausing and taking notice of the present, even when life feels chaotic or confusing. She shares tips on how to get started writing haiku and also shares several of her own in this episode.”
As the seasons change, so do we.
Spring arrives truly
Weak knee’d in their petal wake
Under lilac spell
Much is changing, altering, bending and arching toward the sun — both in nature and at Studio Haiku, which has now been open in Duluth, MN, for almost one and a half years! Much has taken place lately, and much is yet to come. Follow along on my Facebook page for events, Instagram for visual delights or subscribe to my new blog. I’m looking forward to writing more.
According to Kara Larson, editor of Make MN: “The Possibility Issue opens with a beautiful essay by Natalie Salminen Rude, a visual artist and poet based in Duluth, MN. By interweaving beauty, justice, and wonder into her creative work, Natalie paints primarily in oils and encaustic—an ancient medium that combines beeswax, pigment, resin, and heat. Working professionally in the arts since 2004, she maintains a studio, Studio Haiku, in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood, teaches encaustic workshops both locally and internationally, exhibits, and facilitates discussions on spirituality and what it means to live as an artist within the context of commitment, family, and the humble rhythms of life.”
She goes on to say, “Natalie’s essay explores the notion of making space in our lives to foster creativity and connect us to our most creative selves. Her thoughtful words consider the incredibly relevant conversation of what rest and space means for us in a contemporary context. Natalie writes, “Research across fields continues to show us that when the mind is at rest, the mind is making connections. Innovation and discovery are at the mercy our of ability to simply sit, disengaged, unplugged, with distractions set aside. Not only is fostering this kind of space necessary for our creative fires to burn, it is the only way humanly forward.”
Studio Haiku is a stockist for Make MN Magazine. Stop by to pick up a copy of this beautiful, ad free quarterly publication highlighting creative culture and community in Minnesota.