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Black Hills roots helped artist's style
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Suzanne Wyss didn't realize what a profound effect growing up in the Black Hills had on her art until she came back.

She describes the Hills as beautiful and wild, something that she took for granted as a kid. But with her sculpture installation set to open today at the Dahl Arts Center, she has had time to reflect on what the Black Hills mean to her and her art.

"I'm like a force of nature, and so is my art," Wyss said. "Growing up in such beauty helped shape that."

Wyss graduated from Rapid City Central High School in 2005. She later received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a master of fine arts degree in sculpture from Indiana University Bloomington. She currently lives and works in Austin, Texas, but is back in the Black Hills to open her show.

Wyss' exhibition, "Denatured," is made up of three large installations and several large-scale sculptures. She uses industrial materials to create organic forms.

Growing up as the daughter of a textile artist and landscape designer, Wyss came to realize her art is an amalgamation of the two professions.

"It's hilariously right in the middle," Wyss said Tuesday.

One installation at the Dahl is a jungle form made of hundreds of VHS tapes. Another is a cave made out of hand-stitched felt. She calls them "alternative natural environments."

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"In nature you happen upon a cave but it's scary," Wyss said. By contrast, she sees her pieces as inviting and interactive. She made the installations as a way to evoke emotion for the viewer by being surrounded or engulfed in the art.

"I try to think about how the body relates to the installations," Wyss said. "Where do I want people to exist within the form?"

She invited members of the public attend tonight's artist reception, which begins at 5 p.m. Wyss wants people to take their time and get comfortable with her art, and see how that comfort changes their perception of the piece.

The exhibition runs until April 14 in the Sen. Stan Adelstein & Lynda K. Clark Gallery.

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