Return to campus brings back good memories for couple
The printmaking exhibition in the University Art Gallery during October had a special UW-La Crosse connection.
Seth Klekamp, a 2005 graduate who majored in photography and minored in printmaking, headed up the installation of the Madison-based show, “What a Relief: Traditional to Experimental Printmaking at Tandem Press.” Klekamp is the preparator for Tandem Press, a self-supporting professional print studio affiliated with the UW-Madison Department of Art in the School of Education.
Klekamp, who lives in Madison, says returning to his alma mater brought back positive memories. “The Center for the Arts is where I learned the value of a positive work environment and collaboration,” he says. “That period in my life was also when I started engaging in social and environmental causes.”
Klekamp says understanding some of the technical aspects of art and the creative process served as a good foundation for his career. “I think classes taught me to how to work collaboratively and be open to constructive criticism,” he explains.
The message he tries to get across in his work is the value of engaging with the natural and created world. “I believe in the power of change through experience, seeing something through another person’s eyes or their idea or vision,” he says. “I hope to give people a reason to participate in something different or meaningful or beautiful — even if it’s temporary.”
Still, another connection
The printmaking exhibition has another connection — Klekamp’s wife, Karen Meulendyke, another 2005 graduate. The social worker with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, a social justice research agency, says while she doesn’t get to make artwork as much as she did in the past, she draws on that experience every day.
When Meulendyke returned to campus and talked with former professor Joel Elgin, she realized every print she made during college was related to a social justice issue.
“I think my art classes at UWL gave me a venue to explore those passions and provided me with a community of people who were open and willing to talk about social issues,” says Meulendyke. “My art classes helped give voice to what I cared about. In finding that expression, I gained confidence in my ability to talk about and present on ideas that I believe aim to make the world a more fair, equitable and just place, which is essentially what I still get to do in my career today.”
Meulendyke says working full time limits her time for printmaking, her favorite art medium.
“I love the mix of careful calculation and serendipity that leads to final creations that come out of work on an intaglio printing press,” she explains. “The color combinations are endless and more complex than direct application existing when you put a pencil to paper or paint to canvas. Printmaking is a process.”
Meulendyke and Klekamp have added a studio in their basement. She hopes to be able to spend more time there in the near future.