Alexis Schramel (she/her) is a queer experimental artist practicing across disciplines for exploration within social practice, collaboration, and installation. Alexis grew up rooted in rural farming communities of the Driftless Area along the Mississippi River. Influenced by her environment and living processes, she explores the whimsy and brutality of nature. She connects the bodily boundaries and bio-materials in her process through the thresholds of sensory perception, duration, and reflection. Most recently, Alexis is exploring the ceaseless movement of living processes, like fermentation, reverberating her interest in challenging systems such as colonialism. She approaches her practice through gift-giving systems of reciprocity which is interwoven into non-animalia kingdoms. Her studio/lab investigates duration, microorganisms, and systems of relations that emerge from entanglement.
Alexis is an adjunct professor for Art & Ecological Futures at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Alexis holds a BA in both psychology and studio art with high honors from Upper Iowa University. Alexis is a committee member, juror, and youth public art director at Art in the Park in Elkader, Iowa. In addition to directing public projects and workshops for local youth, she also organized Art for a Lifetime projects for residents of long-term care facilities. She has exhibited her work regionally and internationally at galleries such as Waterloo Center for the Arts, Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Tappan Collective in Leeds, England, and most recently Leica 6x7 Gallery in Warsaw, Poland. She has received multiple awards and scholarships most notably Ingleside Women in Fine Arts Scholarship and Baldwin Memorial Award in Art.
A Few Questions About Alexis’ Rural Experience
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Guttenberg Iowa, in a farming community alongside the Mississippi river, a combination of river life and farming life- I’ve always lived along the mississippi!
How did rural life affect you growing up?
Growing up in a farming community it affected school, church, groceries; it affects every single aspect of your life. Its so interesting now to live in a place where that's not the case, I’ve noticed now more of the aspects that were so ingrained into my life because of this that were not universal, but very specific to rural communities.
Has your connection to the land changed since being here in mpls?
In some ways, there is still a very strong connection with the land but there is a necessity for active engagement now, as opposed to before where it was a given. Here I don’t have a garden or a farm so I have to go out of my way to integrate some of those practices into my life. The nature here also feels very different here that it does at home
How does this rural experience affect your art practice now?
There is a consistent attempt to integrate natural materials or processes into my work. I grew up canning and food processing all the time and now I’m beginning to integrate this into my work as well. Farming culture specifically is also tied to cyclical processes (seasons, etc); I see those similar cycles and seasons integrated into my artwork through both materials and processes. I try to incorporate situating my work in collaboration with the natural world though weather, scoby, or handmade paper. It's important to me to reflect on how extraction works within society, but also within my own practice. It’s like the difference between a circular economy and capitalism, ie. an environment where everything gets regenerated into a new source as opposed to generating waste outside of the generative cycle