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Wanda Reise Odegard
Metal for the soul inspires enduring works of art
Wanda Reise Odegard knows what it's like to lose a piece of her soul. Make that 27 pieces. The Bemidji-based artist lost 27 paintings when a fire engulfed the restaurant where they were stored. From the ashes, rose her passion for metal ? a more permanent medium for her art.
With her metal works, Odegard has made a meaningful mark around northern Minnesota. Her monumental sculptures include the 12-foot Niimi, an Ojibwe pow wow dancer which stands on the Lake Bemidji waterfront; the 9-foot Mr. Hockey in Bemidji State's John Glas Fieldhouse; and the 7-foot bronze globe that greets visitors at the Mississippi headwater's in Itasca State Park.
A self-described hometown Bemidji girl, Odegard never wanted to leave. Her hope is that her artwork will reflect the northern life and culture for generations who follow. Working with metal requires a lot of time, which suites Odegard and her appreciation for a slower northern pace where people enjoy the beauty around them.
The result is a nurtured soul that inspires Odegard's creativity. Her most recent work is a bronze eagle with a 16-foot wingspan that she spent three summers creating.
"I had some teachers that understood me very well and encouraged me to create my own style of work -- be my own artist. College gives you the confidence that your ideas are good ones."