Visual Art 9-3-2007

State Fair Winners: Bly Pope, Drawing

Bly Pope is one of twin brothers, both artists. Bly’s extraordinary work resonated with many at the Fair this year. Look for the brothers’ website to see more.

Patch of earth Bly Pope

What’s the reason you show at the State Fair?
I’ve lived in Minnesota most of my life, and have gone to the State Fair with my family and friends for many years, so to have my work viewed by so many Minnesotans is really an honor for me.

Have you had any interesting reactions to your work from State

Most people are amazed at the fact that my work is hand-drawn with a
pencil, because it looks like a photograph on first sight. People usually
ask how long the work takes. At my MFA thesis exhibition at the University
of Minnesota, one person asked me, “Is that really the way you see things?”
and complimented me on the way I “look so deeply into nature in all its

How do you make your work?
For the past few years I have been involved with only photorealistic pencil
drawings. My entry this year, Patch of earth, took over 1,400 hours to draw. My process involves taking many photos with an old-fashioned 4 X 5
camera, developing the photos, enlarging them, and then visually
translating them in pencil onto paper or illustration board. The preeminent
goal of my drawings, and Patch of earth in particular, is to create an
awareness that even the ordinary is worthy of extreme scrutiny : that every
diminutive, “missable” object is alive, singular, and “holy,” and that
everyday occurrences must be appreciated with care, reverence, and
gratitude. All my works are celebrations of the mundane — seeing the
miraculous and extraordinary within the commonplace.

Where do you do your work?
I work in my home basement studios in Wisconsin and Minnesota. i use strong lighting so i can achieve all the minute details of the photographs.

How did you become an artist?
I come from a family of artists — my father is a screenwriter and teacher, and my mother is a poet, painter, teacher, and novelist. i’ve been an artist my entire life. I have a twin brother, Rowan Pope, who is also an experienced artist, and we compete and challenge and enjoy working on art together and sharing ideas.

Do you do your artwork full time?
I try to. I just graduated from the Masters of Fine Arts program at the
University of Minnesota and I’m looking into options regarding the full-time creation of photorealistic portraits, landscapes and groundscapes.

What would you like to tell people about your work?
I take photorealistic portrait commissions for my business, so if people are
interested in having a portrait drawn of themselves or someone they know,
they can email me at