September 9, 2014 at 8:39 am
By Eric Beuning, Correspondent
Local artist Heidi Jeub is no stranger to the Little Falls area. Born in Illinois, she grew up in Sartell yet the tides of her life continue to bring her back to Little Falls.
While attending Sartell High School, Jeub found little encouragement for her artistic talents. “When I graduated I was convinced that I should go to school for architecture,” said Jeub. “While I was studying I kept finding that I could design things but I didn’t know how to work with the materials. So I started exploring how to use materials creatively. Once I did that, my whole world opened.”
While studying architecture at Drury College in Springfield, Mo., Jeub found herself being attracted more and more to art, cultural studies and American studies. This eventually led to her transferring to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where she earned a bachelor’s of art-studio art.
“We moved to Little Falls because of the arts community and opportunities for the kids like dance and music classes,” said Jeub. “It’s hard to find that stuff concentrated so close, even in the Cities.” She first got her start in the area in 2004, as a member of the visual arts committee for the Great River Arts Association. Her role at Great River Arts eventually evolved into her becoming the program director for educational, performing and visual arts programs.
The exposure she received with Great River Arts opened up opportunities for her to work as a board member with Visual Arts Minnesota. During this time she also served as the gallery manager for Lost Lake Design. “It was at Lost Lake that I was exposed to the functional use of art and how to mix it with utilitarian need,” said Jeub.
All of these experiences led her to become the Executive Director for Visual Arts Minnesota, also known as VAM. “My time at VAM was very rewarding and it helped me to understand how to work art into the community,” Jeub said.
Along the way Jeub has won several grants and awards that have allowed her to produce community art pieces. She is a three-time winner of the McKnight Foundation Grant from the Five Wings Art Council. She also was awarded the McKnight Foundation for Individual Artist Development and Scholarship in 2012. In 2013, she won the Emerging Individual Artist Award.
In 2013, Jeub resigned from her role as executive director of Visual Arts Minnesota in order to focus on her role as a mother of three and to advance her education by seeking a master’s degree in professional studies, arts and cultural leadership at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Part of her program is linked to educational residency programs teaching art in schools that lack or have underdeveloped art programs. “It’s really rewarding to work with kids and help them expand their understanding and appreciation for the arts,” said Jeub.
Traditionally education programs focus on the acronym STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These areas of study become tools teachers can use to help children develop problem solving techniques. “A lot of the times I start out with the industrial tech students and we try to make a round robin project where the mixed media and fine arts students get to contribute,” said Jeub.
The idea behind a round robin has one group of students start a project, then hand it off to another group. They make their own additions before it’s handed off to a third. In this way no one group owns it, but every child feels like they are a part of it.
“Art really is about the process and in the real world all of these different students can do a great job working well together,” said Jeub. “It’s all about the technique you use to encourage them.”
Currently, Jeub is working on several different projects including a community arts project for Sartell that uses recycled materials from the Verso paper mill.
Locally Jeub is in the process of acquiring a grant for an artistic bike rack project for the Boys and Girls Club in Little Falls. The program is waiting on a community matching grant in order to get started.
“It’s a large project working with local kids so they can learn about industrial technology, crafting and the arts,” said Jeub. “We’re looking for a local welding company that might be willing to donate time or materials.”
For more information about Jeub’s services or how to contribute to the bike rack project, check outwww.heidijeub.com.