Open House/Open Studios: Behind-the-Scenes at the Bemis


July 18th, 2017

Céline Lastennet
Missing Stone
wood, stone
15x13x70cm, 2016

rubber, marble, wood, springs
31x31x21 cm, 2016
Courtesy the artist


Omaha, NE—Joan Waltemath and the crew at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts move and raise her 15 foot canvases at the facility’s Okada Center. Waltemath is one of nine artists in residence currently at the Bemis, and their work will be on display at this Saturday’s Open House/Open Studios.

Guests will get a chance to view the work of the current artists in residence and have a rare look at their studio space, which is usually closed to the public. Holly Kranker, Residency Program Manager, explained the purpose of open studios.

KRANKER: Open Studios is an opportunity two fold, not only for the public to kind of see the behind the scenes of how a residency works—we do this only three times a year when we have residents in the building—but it’s also an opportunity for the artists to put work out in front of the public and get feedback and so maybe it’s something that they’re experimenting with, or trying something new, or wanting to get a sense of how the work is viewed in front of an audience, and so we really leave it up to the artist to self-select what they want to show where they want to be set.

The Bemis has been hosting artists through their Artists-in-Residence program for over thirty years, providing time, studio space, and financial support for developing new work. The current artists in residence come from all over the world—New York, Puerto Rico, France, and Venezuela to name some places—and collectively their work covers all forms—painting, sculpture, design, and even poetry.

Waltemath described the residency experience.

WALTEMATH: It’s really important. Maybe it doesn’t really influence your work, but I think it influences your ability to work because you need to have people to bounce off of while you’re making work. You can’t just stay in the studio ten hours a day and then go home alone. I feel like that community of people around is really essential, and when everyone is working a lot and excited about what they’re doing, it creates this wonderful atmosphere.

Céline Lastennet is a sculptor from Saint Pierre Roche, France, and her work has been influenced by her environment and the unique experiences she’s had while in residence –that includes skydiving.

LASTENNET: I think sculpture is linked to experience, and so in order to start working in the studio I have to just live something which would just give me ideas. sometime I look for an experience like here, doing this skydiving or sometime it just happens, like walking in the street and having these huge buildings around you.

Her work considers the human body in relationship to gravity, and for one of her pieces, a massive polygonal wooden piece will stand on top of an equally impressive wooden lattice structure, about 15 feet tall in total. Not all of the artists’ work is complete yet, and some might not be when on display, but Lastennet plans to get it all together.

HIRSCHHORN: How are you going to get that on there?

LASTENNET: Well that’s the big question of the week. It’s going to happen.

Open House at the Bemis Center will be this Saturday, July 22, from 11:00am to 4:00pm. The artists and curator in residence will discuss their work at noon. The studios open at 1:00pm, and ice cream will be served. For more information about the open house and open studios, visit


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