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Meet the artist


Unique art by MSU Faculty

When looking through pictures there are always a few images that just don’t make the cut—the snapshots that aren’t worth printing out or sharing to family members on social media. Yet those are the types of “forgotten images” that Britta Urness uses to create a unique balance in some of her pieces, like the one on the cover.

The piece is a watercolor painting that is part of a series titled “Lady Heads.”

Urness first looks through old magazines or how-to tutorials of women’s hair from the ‘60s and ‘70s to get inspiration for the portrait. The aspect of Urness’ art that really makes it stand out is how she uses “mistake” photos and recreates them in the hair or face of the portrait.

“I often look for photos that don’t compositionally work, it works best with my art,” Urness said. “I’ll look on my own phone or other images that I have found. Sometimes it is what I own but it’s stuff I’ve ignored.”

Because the images used inside of the ‘60s and ‘70s hair styled portraits are usually from Urness’ own phone, she said there is a disconnect within the art because there are two different eras. However, they don’t clash but create a feel of a memory; the feeling of the outside looking in.

“It’s bit of an inner dialog within the image,” Urness said.

When Urness, 35, isn’t creating art, she is teaching drawing at Michigan State University. Urness is also an academic advisor and teaching specialist for art students at MSU.

Urness grew up in Black Earth, Wisconsin near the city of Madison. It was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned her bachelor’s in fine arts in studio art in 2004. Urness then went to the University of Iowa where she earned her master’s of fine arts in painting and a minor in printmaking just four years later.

“Art is incredibly important in my life,” Urness said. “I’ve either always been an art student, an art teacher, and with what I do as an advisor, I am working with students that are involved with the arts. It is what I do, in the personal and professional aspects of my life.”

Urness, who now lives in Lansing, said she loves what the city is doing for art.

“(Art) is really important for neighborhoods and place making in small cities like Lansing,” Urness said.


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