Erin Wiersma

Erin Wiersma

Konza works on paper

art and nature I - group exhibition

Linie I Poesie - group exhibition

"For over a decade I have been making performative drawings and paintings informed by a meditative and ritualist approach.  

My practice focuses on the body’s capacity to absorb and respond to an environment, leading me toward the Flint Hills of Kansas, which is the largest intact tallgrass prairie in North America. Within the Flint Hills, the Konza Prairie is one of the few remaining protected grasslands in the world. At varying intervals, controlled burns are used to replenish and maintain the ecosystem. Using bio-char produced from this tallgrass prairie, I draw with the land, which becomes both the subject matter and medium. Walking the grasslands brought about an awareness of and response to wind, temperature, humidity, geological time, and topography of the landscape." Erin Wiersma 

Fire is a natural force that has shaped grasslands for millennia, and it remains crucial for managing and conserving tallgrass prairie today. Fire also inspires and captivates the human spirit. Can grassland fires also be used to produce art? Erin Wiersma, Associate Professor of Art at Kansas State University, is exploring how recently burned prairie can be used to bridge art and conservation and create a greater public awareness of the land. 

When Wiersma, who is originally from New Jersey, moved to Kansas, she brought her studio outdoors and developed an artistic relationship with the land and the environment. She creates large-scale drawings by direct contact with the charred remains of the prairie following controlled burns. Visually the work results in a drawing that is reminiscent of the expansive prairie and visible growth patterns, while creating dialogue around local conservation efforts and the urgent need for native prairie grasslands. Wiersma recently previewed her work at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art on the Kansas State University campus as part of the Prairie Studies Initiative program. 

The Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) includes experimental prairies burned at different intervals as part of the Konza LTER program. Wiersma uses KPBS as her studio. She creates her drawings using the charred plant matter and ash left after a prescribed fire, by pulling/rubbing/dragging/lifting paper in recently burned prairie. Creating these works involves many hours on-site, walking the land to develop an awareness of the prairie landscape, and its responses to the wind, temperature, humidity, and changes over geological time. 

Wiersma thinks of KPBS as a time capsule. “When I go out to work in the prairie it is a very ceremonious experience. The whole event is sacred and meditative for me”, she says. “I typically pass through a gated section housing a herd of bison that dwell within these lands and graze. At one time Native Americans thrived on the land alongside great herds of bison. Burning was used as a method to herd the bison to specific areas for hunting, and also to rejuvenate the soil. I cannot be on this land without thinking of the people and animals that live here, both past and present.” Rhodes, J.J. (2018, April 3). After the Burn - Making Art Out of Grassland Fires. Retrieved from 


Born in Somerville, New Jersey US 1982

Lives and works in Manhattan, Kansas

2009University of Connecticut, M.F.A.
2004Messiah College, B.A.

Istitutio San Lodovico, Orvieto, Italy

Solo Exhibitions

2019Mid America Art Alliance, Kansas City MO
2018Main Gallery at UCM Gallery of Art & Design, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO
2017Robischon Gallery, Denver, CO
2017Bottega Chioccia Tsarkova, Orvieto Itay
2017Dairy Arts Center, Hand-Rudy Gallery, Boulder, CO
2015Jacqueline B. Charno Gallery, Kansas City Artist Coalition, Kansas City, MO
2015Clayton Staples Gallery, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
2015Tony Hungerford Memorial Gallery, CSM - LaPlata, MD
2014A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2014Johnson Gallery, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
2013Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC
2012Gallery at Three Rivers, Three Rivers Community College, Norwich, CT
2012University Gallery, PSU - Pittsburg, KS
2010Sarah A. Coyne Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
2007Hampden Gallery, UMASS – Amherst, MA

Select Group Exhibitions

2019Line | Poetry, Galerie Fenne Wehlau, München
2018Here and Now, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan, KS
2018Marking Presence, McMahon Gallery, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, CO
2017Natural Instincts, The Jewish Art Salon hosted by the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT
2017100 Works on Paper Benefit, Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn, NY
2017Gathering Differences, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2017Infrastructure: Land, Mind, Country, AICAD Seminar Gallery, New York Artist Residency Program, Brooklyn, NY
2016With/drawn: Nancy Morrow & Erin Wiersma, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2016New Art in Old House, Governors Island, NY
2016Wish You Were Here, Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY
2016In the Secret Garden, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2015Line & Space, Martin Museum of Art, Baylor University, Waco, TX
2015Summer National Juried Exhibition, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Novato, CA
2015THE (Un)Fair, NY, NY
2015Transformed Viewpoints, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2014Draw, Drawing, Drawn, Vita Art Center, Ventura, CA
2014Liminal Communities, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2013New Drawings: Sara Schneckloth & Erin Wiersma, SOHO20 Gallery, NY, NY 2013
2013A Fine Line: Contemporary Drawing, Claypool-Young Art Gallery, MSU - Morehead, KY
2013Fragments, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2013Push on the Surface, Gallery at Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ
2012The Human Presence, Triangle Gallery, Sinclair Community College, Dayton, OH
2012Celebrating Kindred Spirits and Strange Bedfellows, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2011Ephemera, Olive DeLuce Fine Art Gallery, NWMSU - Maryville, MO
2011Intimacy, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL
2011Drawing Discourse Exhibition, S. Tucker Cooke Gallery, UNC – Ashville, NC
2010MOAK 4-State Regional Exhibition 2010, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
2010Drawing in the Expanded Field, Clara Hatton Gallery, CSU - Fort Collins, CO
2009Wayne and Geraldine Kuhn Gallery, OSU – Marion, OH
2009Apperceptions, SOHO20 Gallery, NY, NY
2009Apperceptions, William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs CT
2009Coast to Coast, Dakshina Chitra Gallery, Chennai India
2008Coast to Coast, Ruchika’s Art Gallery, Panjim, Goa India

Publications: Blogs | Exhibitions in Print

2018Jennifer J Rhodes, “After the Burn – Making Art Out of Grassland Fires,” LTER Stories.
2017Sharon Butler, “Two Coats resident artist Erin Wiersma returns from Kansas,” Two Coats of Paint.
2017Sarah Handcock, “Drawing in Place,” Seek Magazine. Vol. 7: Issue 2
2017Butler, Sharon, “Infrastructure at Seminar in DUMBO,” Two Coats of Paint.
2016INDA 10, Manifest Gallery and Drawing Center.
2015Sharon Butler, “Quick study: Art bus, Rauschenberg as bad parent, sexism in arts writing, Abelow, Two Coats Residency, Stanley Whitney, Stella retrospective, more.” Two Coats of Paint.
2015Jacquelyn Gleisner, “Still Points in Erin Wiersma’s Drawings.” Art21 Online Magazine – Sincerity Issue.
2015Sharon Butler, “Two Coats of Paint Artist Residency Program kicks off this week.” Two Coats of Paint.
2015Creative Quarterly Magazine, CQ37, 3x3 Publishing, New York, NY.
2014Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 28. Open Studio Press, Boston, MA.
2014Danielle Fallon, "Lines and Layers: Erin Wiersma’s ‘The Theory of Line’”, On-Verge, CUE Foundation.
2014Sharon Butler, "Erin Wiersma: What's Left of Our Lives," Two Coats of Paint.
2014Marsha Levin-Rojer, “Erin Wiersma: Dynamic Exploration,” (Catalog Essay)
2013Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 23. Open Studio Press, Boston, MA
2011Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 13. Open Studio Press, Boston, MA

Select Awards & Residencies

2018KSU, University Small Research Grant
2017Two Coats of Paint Residency, Brooklyn, NY
2016KSU, University Small Research Grant
2015Two Coats of Paint Residency, Brooklyn, NY
2015Draw International Residency, Caylus France
2014[Awarded Best in Show] Draw, Drawing, Drawn, Vita Art Center, Ventura, CA.
2014KSU, University Small Research Grant
2013KSU, President’s Academic Excellence Award
2013Big 12 Faculty Fellowship 2013 – 2014
2011KSU, Faculty Development Award
2010KSU, Small Research Grant