Visual Art

Visual Poetry

artist Andy Ducett weaves together array of imagery

Bailey Berg, photos by Leah Dunbar |

When he’s not teaching classes at UW-Stout – or sitting on a stool smiling at you – Minneapolis artist Andy Ducett is busy displaying his work around the world.
When he’s not teaching classes at UW-Stout – or sitting on a stool smiling at you – Minneapolis artist Andy Ducett is busy displaying his work around the world.

You know that saying? The one that goes, “those who cannot do, teach?” Well folks, that is definitely not the case for Andy Ducett.

For the past four and a half years, Ducett has taught a wide variety of classes at UW-Stout, from drawing and painting to computer imagery and installation. Also, this semester, he is teaching an advanced installation class at the College of Visual Arts in Minneapolis. Andy Ducett doesn’t just teach art, he creates it … and then it is displayed or published all over the world. Seriously. He’s a big deal.

His installations predominately consist of site-specific mounds of found objects. The only way to describe his works would be to compare them to the stuff accumulated in one’s attic – only far more interesting and visually enticing. Ducett phrased it as, “visual poetry.” The pieces include all types of random treasures, from toys and pieces of furniture to lights and knick-knacks. Then there are his drawings – depicting cities, carnivals, and more – but he takes them to a whole new level with the intensity of the detail.

His work is greatly revealing of his personality. “I think that really strong artwork is indicative of the person who makes it, and that the way the work is presented – some objects strung together sometimes meticulous, sometimes whimsically – references my personality,” said Ducett.

Ducett’s work is steeped in lineage, where one body of work somehow relates to the next. But each piece starts out as a complete improvisation, generally with a visually interesting catalyst object, around which the rest of the piece is formed. But when you’re piling on objects, how do you know when you’re done? Similarly to a chef knowing when a soufflé is done – having worked with it long enough, one begins to understand the flexibility of the medium. Ducett said, “You just know. It just feels done.”


Ducett stands.
Ducett stands.

When I spoke to Ducett, he was in the process of finishing up work for his upcoming show at the University of Minnesota Nash Gallery, his last show for about two years, after which he’ll be taking on the gargantuan effort of creating enough work to fill a space of 12,000 square feet. The solo exhibition was offered to him by one of the biggest non-profit alternative spaces in the country, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and is set for display in fall of 2012.


“It’s a very humbling and daunting task,” he said. “But I’m really excited to get working on it.”

The larger space will allow Ducett to work with objects that are bigger than he has used in the past, such as a semi trailer, and will provide him room to create something on a grander scale, such as reconstructing a house. One challenge Ducett is facing is dealing with the history of the space. Ducett explained, “I want my work to work in tandem with the space, rather then just sit there in a gallery setting.”

There’s no denying that Ducett is a big deal. His work has attracted the eye of galleries and curators around the globe. His art has been featured in numerous publications, including New American Paints; Drawing; The Visual Artist at Work, a textbook on drawing by Mike Fleishman; Elephant, a visual art magazine based in London; and Spooky, an international artist calendar. He was also the recipient of a 2009 MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, which enabled him to travel to Tokyo two summers ago to meet with the people behind their galleries.

“Every once and a while, I’ll Google my name and see where I’ve had work that’s been posted,” he said. “It’s nice when you have to use a translator to figure out the page, because it shows that your work is being moved around into different areas.”

Painting Zombies • Nov. 16-Dec. 16 • Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota • FREE •