Gov. Kim Reynolds Honors Female Artists in New Display at State Capitol

    DES MOINES - Three female Iowa artists whose works capture the beauty and balance of nature are featured in a new exhibition on display in Gov. Kim Reynolds' formal office at the State Capitol.

    The Iowa Women's Art Exhibition includes pieces from Alexandra Ackerman of Iowa City, Stephanie Failmezger of Peosta and Molly Wood of Des Moines now through June 30. The exhibition series, which rotates artworks from female artists semi-annually, was created in 2014 by then-Lt. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Arts Council.

    "Iowa's landscape and environment have been a source of inspiration for artists long before we were even a state," Reynolds said during a reception with the artists in her formal office on Tuesday. "These artists have captured the essence of Iowa's natural beauty, and I'm proud to showcase them and their stories in this exhibition. I encourage Iowans to visit my formal office and enjoy seeing these wonderful works of art."

    "The works from these artists come in three different mediums and have their own individual identities," said Veronica O'Hern of the Iowa Arts Council. "But they all share a common theme that connects us to our natural landscape and environment. We thank Governor Reynolds for recognizing their talent and partnering with us to showcase their works for the public to enjoy."

    More information about the artists and their works on display in the Iowa Women's Art Exhibition follows:

    Alexandra Ackerman of Iowa City
    Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ackerman grew up drawing, cutting and sewing things from a very young age. She learned to paint in the wet-on-wet watercolor style at 8 years old and maintains a childlike freedom in her current work. With "Above the Surface" (2016) and "Desert Landscape" (2016), she uses patterns and emotionally charged colors -- playful blues, energetic oranges and hot pinks -- to create internal landscapes and biomorphic abstractions that evoke leaves, seeds, eggs, sprouts, rain, wind and waves. She earned a degree in painting and printmaking at Massachusetts College of Art and has commissions for individual collectors and public places. She also has works in private and public collections including the Iowa City Public Library and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Her paintings and prints are available at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City.

    Stephanie Failmezger of Peosta
    After earning a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Northern Iowa in 1989, Failmezger launched her fine art career in 2001 when she opened SRF Creative Studio and began selling works at local fairs and art galleries. With "El Abismo de Inocencia" (2013) and "En el Principe fue la Palabra" (2013), her mosaic bead work represents components of an ecosystem, with each piece depending on the other to create intertwining beauty and sustainability. She began combining beads 17 years ago and fell in love with their textures, patterns and colors. Today, she uses many different kinds of beads in her work, including glass, metal, wood, clay, seeds, polymer clay, stained glass and found objects to reflect the balance, independence and harmony of nature. In addition to the governor's office, her works are on display at Outside the Lines Art Gallery in Dubuque and Galena, Illinois.

    Molly Wood of Des Moines
    A native of Montgomery, Alabama, who now lives in Des Moines, Wood photographs toxic and medicinal botanicals using only natural light and styling to make them resemble Dutch still-life paintings. Inspired by Renaissance women who had knowledge about the culinary, medicinal and deadly properties of botanicals, Wood seeks out and grows the same plants at home to observe their growth and life cycles. "Plants that contain the potential to be toxic are extremely complex in their structures," she said. "I use these botanicals as metaphors for my own life experiences. Situation and relationships that can be beautiful, seductive, nurturing, life-sustaining and healthy when experienced in one way can also become toxic and poisonous when circumstances are changed or out of balance." Wood earned a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from Texas Christian University and a master's degree in art history from Southern Methodist University.

    The Iowa Women's Art Exhibition is open to the public 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the governor's formal office at the State Capitol. The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.

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    The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. www.culturalaffairs.org.

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