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Teach. Nurture. Support.

The Sierra Arts Foundation’s mission as a local arts agency since 1971 is to be the region’s premier arts organization with an emphasis on teaching, nurturing and supporting the arts in our community. Sierra Arts strives to provide education opportunities for artists of all ages, as well as development and training, financial support and promotional and marketing assistance. Sierra Arts creates and manages spaces and venues throughout our community for artists to perform and display their work.

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Jennifer Meridian, Nicole Donnelly, Megan Berner & Jill Baker

Desert Notes

Exhibition Dates: August 3 - 25, 2017

Artist Reception: August 3, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

In January of 2015, a group of artists spent ten days in the desert in residency at
the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, NV. This group, consisting of Jill
Baker, Megan Berner, Nicole Donnelly, and Jennifer Meridian, attended the
University of Iowa together working towards MFAs between 2005 and 2009.
This was the first time they were able to reunite and work together in over 5 years.
They used the time and space together to start new work and collaborate with
each other, letting the work be influenced by the environment and the
conversations taking place. Some individual pieces were completed during the
residency but a lot of the work became starting points for larger ideas to develop.
They experimented with cyanotypes, gathering materials from the desert,
documenting, photographing, and giving themselves various exercises (i.e., “1
minute photographs” that were short video pieces, going on short walks, and
quick free writing activities). After returning from the desert, they continued to
create artwork from their experience from a distance, sharing images via a Tumblr
Inspired by Desert Notes, a collection of essays by author Barry Lopez, they
imagined that much of what they were doing in the desert were notations,
sketches, open ended ideas, and conversations with and about the landscape
and environment. The Desert Notes became drawings, photographs, impressions
and reflections, collections, short videos, and performances. This exhibition is a
reflection of their process of collaboration, as well as their individuality as artists,
exploring themes of desert, landscape, and naturalism.
The exhibition consists of a four-channel video—each channel being a
separate piece that each artist edits and puts together of varying lengths. When
they are played simultaneously they will be in conversation with each other.
Included is a wall of small photographs that represent impressions,
collections, and reflections from the desert—perhaps like a visual diary or notes
from the desert, small ideas, or a sketchbook.
Work completed at the residency along with newer pieces will be shown. Donnelly’s paintings and cyanotype rocks, Baker’s drawings, Meridian’s photographs and sculptures, and Berner’s cyanotype flags and photographs.


Megan Berner
In my work, I explore the ways we interact with our environment—how we form
relationships with it and how those connections influence our interpretation of the world
around us—what marks we leave behind, the experiences—intangible and manifest,
and the action of moving through or being in a place. I am interested in liminal spaces,
internal and external—spaces that are transitional and in-between, not quite here or
there. Mirages and other light phenomena, states of meditation, suspended moments,
and dream states all occupy this kind of territory.

Nicole Donnelly
Ecology and environmental issues are central to my art making process. For one, as a
hand papermaker and visual artist, this is where my raw materials come from, and
secondly, the imagery I create always pertains to the responsibility we carry to conserve
the natural world. For the last 7 years, I have been creating site-specific outdoor
artworks, as well as continuing to make more traditional paintings and “hang-on-the-
wall” sculptural pieces which incorporate handmade paper, printmaking processes, and
light-weight tree branch armatures. I strive for simplicity in these works: to create a
visual space that any individual can encounter and appreciate for the sake of color, or
form, or imagery. I am in search of that intimate and personal moment, at the juncture of
phenomena and perception.

Jennifer Meridian
My practice as a visual artist and director is rooted in a commitment to understanding
the world around and within me from a feminist perspective. I encounter (inhabit) the
female body as the earth body, and am studying (living) the two as parallels: all trauma
can be seen on both sites as well as all rebirth and reincarnations. I work with a range
of materials: photography, sculpture, video, performance, and drawings. The use of
character and story is also essential to my practice, but frequently becomes fragmented
and ruptured, dismantled and looped. The intersection of media and approach – these
fertile and generous, mysterious crossroads – is where the best work is made and what
interests me the most. My practice is fluid and open-ended. At its heart there is
transformation and evolution. I use drawing as a direct form of mark-making experience,
and feel that it ties me back to my earliest ancestors working in the caves. I value
photography as a way to act as my witness, the extra eyes I keep beside me that help
me see and share what I am seeing. With the performance-based projects, I work with
other artists as a collaborator and director, telling the stories of our lives in unexpected
places and experimental ways. My work moves equally between private and public,
studio and street, and in those movements I gain perspective, clarity, and voice.

Jill R. Baker
Jill Baker is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Oregon. From 2009-
2014, she lived on the Oregon Coast, a place where temperate rain forest meets the
ocean. Like the Oregon Coast, much of her work is involved with isolated towns and
stories, viewpoints and historical markers. “My projects often involve ‘finding my way,’ or
finding something where there is seemingly nothing, about exploring what is around me,
making observations, notations and sketches, and collaborations.” She holds an M.F.A.
in Intermedia from the University of Iowa and a BA in Anthropology from the University
of North Texas. Her work has been exhibited, screened, and performed throughout the

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Sierra Arts Foundation
17 S. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89501
(775) 329-2787

Gallery Hours:
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