Gesine Janzen
School of Art, 238 Haynes Hall,
Montana State University, Bozemen, MT, USA
Telephone: 1-406-994-3011

Paper: “History, Memory, and Identity: Printmaking as a Connection Between Generations”

The expression of cultural identity is central to my work in printmaking. At the Berlin/Poznan conference, I will give an overview of my prints, and address how they deal with my family history of migration from Prussia, how the imagery embodies traditions in German print history, and my return to Germany and Poland today. My work deals with identity, memory, history and family. An artistic thread connects me to previous generations. My grandfather, Kurt Kauenhoven, (1888-1975) studied art history in Berlin and Koenigsberg, East Prussia. He collected prints, which were displayed in his home in Goettingen. Seeing his collection when I visited as a child, led me to become a printmaker. Raised in Kansas, but half German, I have always dealt with a dual identity. I spent as many summers playing “Little House on the Prairie” in Kansas as I did looking at art in Germany. Some summer combined outings as diametrically opposed as “The Flint Hills Rodeo” June, and the Kassel Dokumenta in July. Both sides of my family tree go back to the Vistula River delta in Poland. My mother came to America in 1960, but my father’s side of the family migrated to the US several generations ago. Participating in this conference of artists in Germany and Poland would complete a circle of meaning in my work.

At the Impact 4 Conference, I would like to tell my story, and reconnect to the cultural world of my ancestors. This would be approached from a personal standpoint, but also from the standpoint of being an artist in a long history of artists speaking about issues of identity in a transitional time, expression of movement and migration, and where we belong in history and the present.

GESINE JANZEN is an Assistant Professor of Art and Head of Printmaking in the School of Art at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. She teaches courses in printmaking and drawing, including lithography, digital prints, and monotype. She moved to Bozeman from Kansas City, Missouri, where she worked as Assistant Director of the Lawrence Lithography Workshop and as adjunct lecturer at the Kansas City Art Institute and The University of Missouri. She earned an MA and MFA at the University of Iowa, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Kansas and Bethel College, Newton, Kansas. She has shown her work in the United States and internationally in solo and group exhibitions. Two recent shows include the International Print Center in New York, and Print Arts Northwest in Portland, OR. Her work can be found in museum and corporate collections such as the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Sprint, and the Hallmark Collection in Kansas City. Janzen’s recent woodcuts and etchings incorporate autobiographical images of hand-built structures, play houses, forts, and landscapes.