Alwin 2017 Recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Initiative Grant

Betsy Alwin is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thank to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Betsy Alwin will create new public sculptures that visually explore the relationship between the concepts of strength and fragility.  Made from pigmented cast concrete forms and steel, the exterior of the cast forms will be made of lace pattern and be structurally supported by welded and painted rebar. The sculpture will be informed by architectural and infrastructural objects from the built environment.

Disarming a Violent Personal History

This Spring I am participating in Pillsbury United Communities' Art is My Weapon initiative to address violence. Artists in the Minneapolis area were given destroyed weapons to make art with for various exhibitions throughout the year. I was able to find both parts of this handgun and reassemble it temporarily. I have covered it with lace and I will make a mold of it to cast it in ceramic.  I have a very personal connection to gun violence. My only sister killed herself with her husband's handgun. The details of her death are graphic. What led to her having access to the gun is somewhat unclear, but it was assumed that her husband left the unlocked gun case out for her to shoot herself after a quarrel.  Since that horrible event, I have wanted to make a work with a handgun, specifically, make a work of its destruction. I was never able to move myself to purchase a gun for such a project. When the opportunity arose with Art is My Weapon, I thought, "this is the time." I didn't think it would be painful to visit this subject after so many years. I am glad I am doing this project because I realize there are so many feelings that I have not dealt with yet.  Stay tuned for more pictures and info.

This Spring I am participating in Pillsbury United Communities' Art is My Weapon initiative to address violence. Artists in the Minneapolis area were given destroyed weapons to make art with for various exhibitions throughout the year. I was able to find both parts of this handgun and reassemble it temporarily. I have covered it with lace and I will make a mold of it to cast it in ceramic. 

I have a very personal connection to gun violence. My only sister killed herself with her husband's handgun. The details of her death are graphic. What led to her having access to the gun is somewhat unclear, but it was assumed that her husband left the unlocked gun case out for her to shoot herself after a quarrel. 

Since that horrible event, I have wanted to make a work with a handgun, specifically, make a work of its destruction. I was never able to move myself to purchase a gun for such a project. When the opportunity arose with Art is My Weapon, I thought, "this is the time." I didn't think it would be painful to visit this subject after so many years. I am glad I am doing this project because I realize there are so many feelings that I have not dealt with yet. 

Stay tuned for more pictures and info.

The Mold Turned Out

This is the slip after being cast. The detail turned out beautifully; not bad for a plaster mold. The possibilities have opened up greatly!

Larger Molds for Larger Work

I'm really excited for this new slab mold! Preparing for a slip-casting mold this size requires some preparation. This mold will be a slab of plaster 36" x 24" x 1.5." For support as well as convenience, the rebar reinforcements serve as handles to flip the mold.