Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Isolated But Connected

bagnall_late_stage_cabin_1.jpg
Courtesy Mindi Bagnall
/

What first catches the eye on artist Mindi Bagnall’s Instagram page is an installation piece she calls “World Wide Web.”

It’s one of her previous ArtPrize entries that was later shown at a Western Michigan University faculty show. What look like spider webs connect tiny houses across the corner of the room. The “webs” are actually electrical cords. The piece illustrates how connected — and isolated — we are in today’s online world, perhaps even more so at this time of COVID-19-induced seclusion.

Art_Beat-Bagnall-Full-Web.mp3
A conversation with Mindi Bagnall

“At the time, in 2011, I think a lot of people were poo-pooing my concerns,” Bagnall says. “’Mindi, you’re overreacting!’”

Each of Bagnall’s pieces tells a story and a truth, and she doesn’t seem afraid to expose her raw self, anxiety, and moments of insecurity to explore her shadow side. But her work also has bright hope and entices us into worlds of fantasy.

bagnall_flint_mi_we_are_all_connected.jpg
Credit Courtesy Mindi Bagnall
/
"Flint MI We Are All Connected" by MIndi Bagnall

For about seven months, since the beginning of the pandemic, Bagnall says she hasn't been able to paint.

“But I’ve had extenuating circumstances,” she says. Bagnall took early retirement from her position at WMU, and soon after came down with a stomach ailment that her doctor said may have been caused by the coronavirus.

“And then George Floyd was killed,” Bagnall says. It was too much, and she says her creativity took a pause. Overwhelmed, she's focused her energy on creating a larger art studio in her home, where she lives with her two young daughters.

“I’ve been retrofitting my house into a giant studio, and that has been wonderful,” Bagnall says. Before the pandemic, she worked at her MKB Art Studio at the Park Trades Center in Kalamazoo, where she also offered individual and group instruction.

“A lot of my ideas come from the fears I’ve have, the experiences I’ve had in my life with insecurity, and my lack of self-esteem — I work on that. I do such nice work, why don’t I feel better about myself? That’s very honest, isn’t it?”

It could be that it's Bagnall’s willingness to expose her vulnerability that's brought so many fans to her work.

Bagnall has taught art at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and at Western Michigan University.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
Related Content
  • For a young artist, Ellen VanderMyde has acquired an impressive list of experiences.She’s a graduate of the Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan…
  • What's it like to be an identical twin, so close that you share almost every thought and emotion? That’s the subject of Michigan native Sharon Harrigan’s…
  • It's hard to miss the bright and colorful art of Ellen Nelson. It’s big. So, you’ve probably seen her murals in and on the outside of buildings throughout…