Photographer and painter partner to create new works
Collaborating with another artist can be intimidating, especially if the other artist works in a different medium. But that’s also what makes the resulting art so interesting. Landscape photographer Kent Burkhardsmeier and abstract artist Jessica Wachter teamed up to create a body of work exhibited at The Capital Gallery in Bismarck, North Dakota, where they both grew up. They titled the exhibition “Connected.”
How they met: While visiting family in Bismarck, Burkhardsmeier attended a dinner party where he complimented the host on the art she had displayed in her home. She promptly introduced him to the artist, Wachter, who was also at the party. After the party, Wachter checked out Burkhardsmeier’s website then contacted him to see if he’d like to collaborate. He was initially reluctant. “But as we talked, I said, Well, let’s give it a try,” he says.
A unique pairing: “We are kind of an odd couple,” says Burkhardsmeier of their partnership. “She is 32 or so. I am 58. I do photography. I do quiet landscapes. And she does vivacious, vibrant, large abstract paintings on oil.”
Experimentation: At first, Burkhardsmeier printed his photos on photographic paper and canvas, thinking Wachter could then add brushstrokes. But the oil paint bled through. They found metal a more suitable material. They also created some shadow box works, with Burkhardsmeier’s black-and-white images printed on clear glass and Wachter’s colorful paintings set beneath. For those works Burkhardsmeier used images with a lot of negative space—for example, winter branches against a blank sky. The sky disappeared in the glass print, with only the silhouette of the trees remaining.
On collaboration: Burkhardsmeier’s colleagues warned him against collaborating with another artist, wondering who would ultimately own the art. But the experience has led Burkhardsmeier to embrace artistic collaboration. “It’s a good thing. I learned so much from my interaction with Jessica. … We challenged each other.”