Her Voice last spoke to Reanna Schultz in 2014, at the time she was a recent University of South Dakota graduate where she obtained her BFA in Sculpture and at that time she talked about her recent senior exhibition which was a series of dresses she had created out of unordinary materials. The dress series featured 10 dresses made from different materials such as glass, concrete, nails, tar and shingles, house paint, aluminum flashing, cedar, plaster and lath, porcelain, and copper wiring. Aside from these materials being a connection to her past, she also chose these harsh materials to start a conversation about the stereotypes of women; especially the struggles of women being accepted in a maledominated field of work. “Sculpture is my means of artistic communication because I enjoy the process and challenge of using nontraditional materials and methods.” Reanna also happens to be a close friend of mine whose work inspires and amazes me at every turn. Throughout my own undergrad career at USD, my work showcased her quite a bit. Obviously, things haven’t changed too much as Reanna’s recent honor of being a Visiting Artist at USD provided me with another opportunity to share Reanna and her work with others, as well as giving Her Voice readers an opportunity to be updated on what she’s been doing since 2014.

After graduating from University of South Dakota with her BFA, Reanna continued her education at University of Montana to obtain her MFA in Sculpture. While at UM, Reanna realized she could easily make people uncomfortable by using installations as her primary body of work. An installation, in art terms, is when an artist transforms a space to give viewers an experience rather than the focus being on a singular object. Installation offered her the chance to make her work more evocative to allow her to talk about her issues with hearing loss and tinnitus and the resulting psychological effects. Since materials are her language, Reanna decided to use the cacophonous sounds of tinnitus in tandem with large steel wool clouds to help materialize this invisible condition. Since her issues with communication were isolating enough, Reanna wanted to challenge herself and to get her work beyond her own experience to connect with other people. She made three separate installations for her thesis exhibition dealing with depression and anxiety using weather as metaphors. The idea behind these works was to attract people to the art, because it was pretty, but to also connect with them on a shared experience.

“Because depression and anxiety lack tangibility, they make you feel like you’re the only one feeling it – if you can’t prove it’s happening to you, you feel like it’s an absurd thing and therefore you can’t talk about it.” Getting away from South Dakota where she felt comfortable and safe allowed her to be more open in the ideas she wanted to pursue artistically. “I’ve never been shy about certain levels of failure. Failure is important.” After graduating with her MFA from UM, Reanna had an internship at an outdoor sculpture park, Sculpture in the Wild, located in Lincoln, MT. Each year the park hosts a worldrenowned artist who has about a month to create their work. This year Reanna had the honor of working with Patrick Dougherty, an artist who uses tree saplings to create works of art. During the internship, she worked with Patrick and the volunteers to help create his work titled, “Tree Circus” as well as leading the education program, giving lectures on land art and sculpture, giving tours, and facilitating a communitybuilt stick sculpture. As soon as her internship ended, she drove down to Crested Butte, CO to assist and participate in a community iron pour put on by one of her friends from grad school. After this, Reanna came back to South Dakota to help and participate in two more iron pours. Eventually she had to go back to work at the foundry in Sioux Falls, BronzeAge Art Casting. “Since grad school I’ve been helping to make other people’s work. After the body of work in grad school when I had to dwell upon these dark ideas it was a welcomed change to focus on something else that wasn’t me.”

After working with the foundry for a time, Reanna was offered a job at the University of Oregon. She reminisces that packing up and moving that far away in such a short time seemed absurd, but after accepting the job and getting there; it didn’t feel absurd. Her job title with the University of Oregon is Sculpture Studio Technician and this kind of work is very familiar. While she was at UM, she found herself leading most of the metal casting as well as teaching 3D Design. Currently, at University of Oregon, her focus is to help students and faculty in the studio, lead demos on shop equipment and power tools in the wood shop and metal shop, maintain the studio, and order and acquire all supplies for sculpture courses. “I love teaching students how to do things. Knowledge is such an empowering thing; especially in an intimidating field.” Her favorite thing about teaching is seeing the students filled with excitement when they feel confident in doing things. “It’s gratifying. I feel fortunate that I have this job. It’s fulfilling.”

As for personal projects, Reanna is ready for a new body of work but isn’t quite sure what that will be yet. She has been life casting, which is casting body parts, in metal and using them as components to larger works. “It’s often times when you cast an object, that is the art. That’s the sculpture.” Reanna likes to cast parts that become a component to a larger piece, such as the installation of her cloud work from grad school. The cloud work featured casted hands which served as hardware but they also provided a function to the piece – conceptually and physically. Currently she is casting feet, her own feet to be exact. She’s currently toying with the idea of using the feet as a part of a piece dealing with conductivity and weather – possibly quite literally – but hasn’t fully developed the idea. “It’s a hubristic idea – to attract a volatile part of weather.” This comes from something she has noticed since living in three drastically different regions; the Midwest, the west, and then the pacific northwest; the climate and weather have an impact on the general mental state of mind. South Dakota, for example, has volatile weather. “People think South Dakota is boring but I think it’s fascinating and exciting and dangerous because of its weather.” The west has some of those things, but there are some differences. And even more drastically different is Oregon where there is not as much of a clash of different fronts. “Oregon has no thunderstorms…or it’s rare. That makes me sad.”

University of South Dakota brought Reanna back to South Dakota to be a Visiting Artist at the end of March. She started the visit by giving a guest lecture where she reviewed her history of work. She also talked about the privileges she had and the experiences that helped shape her while at USD, why she went to grad school, what she did in grad school, and the kind of work she did and what she’s been doing since then. After that, she helped coordinate the copper pour, a metal that has never before been cast at USD. Reanna built a lot of her skills as a sculptor in undergrad but she learned to pour copper in Montana because they didn’t always have access to bronze. Reanna also met with individual students to give critiques and discuss their work while she was visiting.

Even though bronze is a major improvement on copper, there is a recycling factor to copper. In Montana, Reanna could go to the recycling center to buy copper and then melt it down to cast it whereas bronze is a more expensive metal. The melting of copper is also a bit different than melting bronze as you need a layer of glass to protect it. When melting bronze, you just have bronze but copper needs to be hotter than bronze, which can prove difficult to do with a furnace indoors, so you need the glass layer to protect it from burning off and oxidizing. As a friend of Reanna’s, I have seen my fair share of bronze pours and I can assure you it is awe-inspiring. There is a warm heat during the process from the furnace and then you watch the teamwork of the people who lift the molten metal to quickly pour into the casts that are buried in the sand. There needs to be a trust between the people pouring because you have to move quickly but you have to be safe.

The best thing Reanna loves about her time at USD is the connection to the art community within USD. “USD has been the best I’ve been a part of.” Not only is there the connection within the Fine Arts building but it provides a connection outside of campus among these people. Little Pour on the Prairie is an iron pour that the sculpture professor, Chris Meyer, does every summer. “It’s like a reunion labor camp. There’s not many events like an iron pour. It’s this massive organization of labor, skills, and people. It’s a major endeavor and it’s so rewarding. It’s a lot of trust and bonding. It’s irreplaceable and I’m super grateful for it.” Working on anything without the support of friends and peers is hard enough but working in sculpture without that reinforcement is impossible. “Something you can’t really do beyond academia, beyond a facility or community, is casting by yourself.”