Episode Two

Artists and Craftsmen of the Great River Road – Salvaged Medium

Jamie Harper, Salvaged Medium, an artist using salvaged materials to express his love of the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota.

Read the Podcast Transcript

Jamie:  When I first started doing iron, it kind of stemmed out of a school project. I was basically gathering large pieces of cardboard from  appliance stores, like refrigerator and stoves, washing machine boxes.  So that they were large-scale, and then I was gathering and collecting latex house paint.   There’s a place in Winona, Winona County Environmental Services, offers a hazardous-waste exchange and within there, there is a lot of latex house paint.  So I would gather paint from there and gather paint from various places. All the material that we were using for this project was reclaimed, recycled stuff.   And so that is kind of where it started, and then I enjoyed the process and enjoyed painting.

Interviewer: So when your kid did you think you’d be an artist?

Jamie: Like a really young kid, just like any kid probably, I liked to draw, liked to color.  But I grew out of it and then middle school, high school and like most people, I suck at art and I don’t like it because I suck at it. Just avoid it and I don’t know what clicked or changed, but I was definitely late in the game. I didn’t start painting until well after I was 25, you know, maybe 30, about 30 years old I actually started painting.  I have been painting about 10 years now.

Interviewer:  Jamie Harper is Salvaged Medium. How does the Mississippi River play into what it is that you do Jamie?

Jamie: It’s a  central or integral focus of my subject matter, ever since I’ve started started painting. It offers all kinds of subject matter or ideas. Part of it, for me, is that I’m not from around this area originally. So I mean the river was the reason why I moved to this area, that was like the main pull. I was simultaneously looking to continue my education and so with that search, my main focus was to find a place by a river.   And so the river drew me to this area and instantly it was like its ever present, always around whether your specifically next to or on the river where you can see the water; or you could see the bluffs where you know the water is running in between. It’s always, always there. That’s a really powerful thing in my art.  The river is a really  integral part of what I do for sure. A couple years ago I got a boat, and that got me on the river in a totally different way and that, just by getting a boat and being out in the backwaters, that shifted things as well. I could tell, some of my subject matter changed.  I started looking at things differently.

Interviewer:  So let me ask you this. Do you see art in everything?

Jamie:  Since doing it more I see it more, maybe respect it more and maybe have more of an appreciation for it.  Like you know what different people see and what different people do and how they do it. My perspective has changed on that more since becoming an artist.  And really moving to this area, I felt like there was more of it. I don’t know if I changed and became more associated with other people who were involved with the arts, or if there’s just actually more people involved with the arts. Which I would say, there’s more people involved in the arts per capita.   And I would attribute it to the landscape, when you’re surrounded with natural beauty it sparks something in how you see things and what you want to do with your time.

Interviewer:  Jamie Harper is Salvaged Medium.  How do we find you Jamie?

Jamie: I have an art page on Facebook under Salvaged Medium. You can email me at I tend to do different events, exhibits in the general Winona area, if you see that I’m doing an exhibit, come down and check it out.