Helen Klebesadel Biography
“My visual concerns run the gamut from careful study to poetic, symbolic and
sometimes political representations of nature and human nature.”
Helen Klebesadel is an artist, an educator, and an activist. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, her art has become the place where she explores how we learn our deepest values. Klebesadel is best known for her environmental and women centered watercolors. She is particularly interested in how myths and stories socialize us to have different expectations for some people than from others. She uses the creative process to re-examine and re-present narratives that resist and contest existing power structures by revealing they exist. Klebesadel exhibits her work nationally and internationally.
Helen’s watercolors push the traditional boundaries of the medium in scale, content, and technique. Her paintings range in size from the intimate to the monumental. She creates paintings that are transparent watercolors on paper, starting with detailed drawings and developing the images with layer upon layer of color washes and dry brush technique mixed with occasional areas of wet-into-wet spontaneity. She paints until the paintings tell her she is done.
Helen Klebesadel earned her BS, a certificate in Women’s Studies, and a MFA in art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught courses and workshops on creativity, studio art, and the contemporary women’s art movement for two decades. Klebesadel continues to learn from her art experiences and her students. Helen taught studio art at Lawrence University for ten years before leaving to become Director of the University of Wisconsin System’s Women’s Studies Consortium in 2000. She contributed a chapter entitled Re-Framing Studio Art Critique and Practice, to the recently published text ‘New Museum Theory and Practice: An Introduction. Klebesadel’s art and prose have been published in Femspec, Frontiers, Feminist Studies, Interweave, and CALYX. She is a past national president of the national Women’s Caucus for Art and a current Wisconsin Arts Board member.