Big River Continuum - About the Artist

Karen Goulet and Monique Verdin at Lake Itasca.

Karen Goulet

Karen Goulet is an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation. She is also from Métis, Saami, and Finnish people. She was raised to honor the beauty of the natural world while at the same time was taught to speak the truth and stand up for what she believed in. She believes that art can change the world and supports and honors the efforts of those who are working to make a difference through creative means.

Karen received her BA from The Evergreen State College in Fine Arts and Cultural Education, her MFA in Sculpture from The University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her MEd from University of Minnesota Duluth. She is an artist, poet, educator and community organizer who is fiercely committed to bringing visibility and voice to marginalized realities. She remembers the struggles of those who came before her and does what she can to make opportunity for those who will come next.

Artist Statement
Memory, Place, and Spirit are the heartbeats of my creative life. Memory is both individual and collective in nature. As an artist, I must consider how I will contribute my unique perspective to that which is shared, while always being authentic in the work that I create. This has resulted in many individual works and series of art, as well as initiating community projects that connect and support the creative voice of others. I understand Place to be something that is more complex than an exact location. ‘Place’ is located in the region where the Heart reaches past the ribs to greet Spirit. In the moments when this is experienced I have a sense of connecting with the ephemeral. Spirit is enigmatic and beyond human definition, yet art is often a place where Spirit will reveal itself. It is powerful to see a work of art that speaks to you. If I can leave the viewer with a sense of emotion, the beauty of a moment, or the spirit of a place or person, I am satisfied with my work.

Monique Verdin 

Monique Verdin has intimately documented the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change along the Gulf South, for decades. Her indigenous Houma relatives and their lifeways at the ends of the bayous, found in the heart of America’s Mississippi River Delta, from the Yakne Chitto (Big Country, territory between the Atchafalaya River and the Mississippi) to Bulbancha (“Place of many tongues,” New Orleans), has been the primary focus of her storytelling practice. Monique is the subject/co-writer/co-producer of the documentary My Louisiana Love. Her interdisciplinary work has been included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, including the multiplatform/performance/ecoexperience Cry You One as well as the publication Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. 

Monique is director of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, a series of southeast Louisiana activations sharing native seeds and local knowledge through citizen collaboration, attempting to building a community record of history and present, while seeking regenerative solutions; a citizen and former councilwoman of south Louisiana’s United Houma Nation and is a part of the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative core leadership circle of brown (indigenous, latinx and desi) women, from Texas to Florida, working to envision just economies, vibrant communities and sustainable ecologies.

Artistic Statement
The Mississippi River built the delta land I call home, along the Bayou Terre aux Boeufs, with sacred sediments and waters. It only took a couple thousand years of nature’s dynamic design, using the cycles of floods as its primary tool, overtopping banks along distributaries that once flowed unrestricted along paths of least resistance, south towards the Gulf of Mexico. My time at the Lake Itasca field station for the Big River Continuum residency will investigate ways in which the headwaters and the delta have been in conversation with each other for thousands of years. Using natural materials found along riparian zones, those magical places of transition existing where land and water meet and so much biodiversity exists, as well as other plant based and manmade materials, I plan to weave reflections, modern realities, histories and future dreams into lanterns that can be illuminated to connect the story of one river.

Rebecca Dallinger

Curator in Residence, Big River Continuum 

Rebecca Dallinger has an extensive background in community organizing and rural arts development. While at the White Earth Tribal and Community College Extension Service in Mahnomen, MN, she created multiple venues for arts access and education through workshops, events and open studios. These creative gatherings brought together artists and communities to celebrate traditional arts and food through experiential learning. For six years, she co-led the Wild Food Summit where over 100 people from around the country shared knowledge with foragers, chefs, good cooks and kids on where and how to gather wild food. She earned her Bachelor of Science at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY in Film and Photography.