November Exhibit: Souvenir Plates of Midway Landmarks
Artist Rebecca Meszler
Our Midway neighborhoods are all so special and each have fascinating quirks and spots that an outsider, or a long time local, might not really see. As a relative newcomer, I have had a blast finding these gems. Most of them have quite naturally have become part of my every day routes. Some have served as markers for meeting points. Others have served as distance markers along a path. Often when I can’t recall street names, I am still able to communicate a locations by describing one of these “landmarks”. So I present to you my personal local landmarks. What are your local landmarks?
About the Artist
Rebecca Meszler is an illustrator and ceramicist who resides in St. Paul. She is also an avid collector of children's picture books, antique toys, and vintage housewares. Through her work, she hopes to marry new ideas to an old-world aesthetic.
I Spy Art All Around Me: Butterflies - October
October Exhibit:I Spy Art All Around Me: Butterflies
by Becka Rahn
"For this piece, I really wanted to create art that was local. Not just local to the neighborhood or region, but specifically inspired by the site of the museum itself. So I took photos of just things I could see while standing in front of the Smallest Museum in St Paul and used those photos to create the art.
These butterflies are made from origami-folded wrapping paper. I shot photos of everyday things: a light rail train, traffic signs, and brick patterns on buildings. I really wanted to look for things that at first glance might not seem like they had anything artistic about them. I worked with each photo to bring out the colors and transformed each into a repeating symmetrical pattern. The patterns were printed onto heavy wrapping paper and then I folded each one into an origami butterfly. You can see some of the original photos on an easel inside the cabinet.
Why origami? I have had a fascination with origami since I was a small child. My great great uncle, Lester Grimes, “The Paper Wizard”, was a magician in the 1920s and 30s. He was known for tricks that involved paper and origami, and he performed an opening act at the 1932 World’s Fair. He was a friend and colleague of Harry Houdini and one of the founding members of the Origami Center in NY in the 1950s. I only knew him from family legends, but Uncle Lester was a hero to me as a kid. He was an engineer by training (he designed fire sprinklers), but I loved him because of the stories about his art and clever puzzles. He taught my dad all kinds of paper folding techniques and my dad taught them to me, occasionally entertaining us at restaurants by folding things out of paper placemats. I use origami often as a technique in my own work because it connects me back to an idea that I value highly: celebrating creativity and sharing it with others."
About the Artist
Becka Rahn is a digital fabric and clothing designer, specializing in engineered fabric prints. She is the co-author of The Spoonflower Handbook, a how-to guide to designing your own fabric, and author of I See Art Everyday, a kids art book about the Prospect Park neighborhood. She has received both Jerome and MN State Arts Board grants for her work. Becka has served on the international Etsy Sellers Advisory Board, representing niche craft business owners and is a member of the Board at the Weavers Guild and Hennepin History Museum. Becka lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two big black labs. She spends a lot of time thinking about pixels. You can see more about her work at www.beckarahn.com
8 Places You Are Right Now - September
September Exhibit: 8 Places You Are Right Now by Larsen Husby
“8 Places You Are Right Now” is a set of eight postcards, each representing a place where SMSP is located: St. Anthony Park (neighborhood), Ward 4 (city council ward), 4th District (congressional district), Mississippi River Basin (watershed), N 44° 57’ 51.63” W 93° 11’ 52.74” (geographic coordinates); the Americas (continent); Imnízaska (the Dakota name for Saint Paul); and the Security Building (building where the SMSP is housed).
The piece is meant to cause reflection on the ways in which places are defined, who defines them, and what impact different definitions have on the individual and the community. Postcards are available to the public (inside). Help activate this audience engagement - Take one postcard and send it to a friend or colleague. Spark curiosity. Share inspiration.
About the Artist
Originally from Massachusetts, Husby has been in Minnesota since 2008. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Studio Arts in 2012, and has been living in Minneapolis ever since. He has exhibited in venues across the region, including the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, the Duluth Art Institute, and the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette, MI.
As an artist, he is deeply intrigued by space and place: the connections between the physical world and the meanings we attach to it. His work frequently makes use of maps, both in order to explore these themes and to play with their aesthetic appeal as objects.
In 2013, he cofounded the Minneapolis Art Lending Library (MALL), a nonprofit which lends original works of art to the public, free of charge.
Behemoth in the Midway - August
August Exhibit: Behemoth in the Midway by Yousif Del Valle
his exhibition revolves around the idea of the museum's size itself, mimicking the behemoth stadium being built in Midway. Artist Yousif Del Valle has lived in the Midway neighborhood for 6 years, witnessing the construction of the Green Line and now of the MN United Soccer Stadium.
With “Behemoth,” Del Valle plays with the idea of fitting an over-sized object into a confined, established space. To explore the lack of flexibility presented by the rigid box, he cast the loon in foam and crammed it into the museum.
Yousif Del Valle was born in El Paso, TX and lived in Juarez, Mexico until the age of 14. He received his BFA from Texas Christian University 2003 – 2008 and received his MFA from the University of Minnesota 2009 – 2012; both degrees acquired with an emphasis in sculpture.
Yousif works primarily with molding, casting; miniature set design, video art and full-size installations. Yousif currently works as a fabricator at Tivoli Too in Mendota Heights, MN and as an assistant and consultant out of his studio in West Saint Paul, MN. He is also the drummer for the Twin Cities based death/thrash band Hate Beast. Yousif’s work is heavily influenced by Ed Keinholz, Paul McCarthy, Vito Acconci and James Turrel.
Ahan on Spoons: Poems on a Refugee's Forgiveness - July
July Exhibit:Ahan on Spoons: Poems on a Refugee's Forgiveness
by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay
SMSP's July exhibit showcases the childhood photos of Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, AKA Refugenius, accompanied by her poems around the theme of forgiveness.
"For a few years, I had been sharing personal and sometimes painful photographs from my childhood: refugee camp birthday parties, first arrival in Minnesota, visiting an American mall for the first time to meet Santa, our family gathered on the floor for my mother's version of a Thanksgiving dinner, me sitting on the lap of my would-be molester, at a car dealership picking out my father's dream car (Izuzu Truck).
When I posted the photos online, I didn't think that it mattered much - I didn't realize that among my peers of .5 generation Lao American refugees, I was rich in childhood photographs. I had dozens from the refugee camp and hundreds from my childhood. They tell me, "How lucky you are that your parents had the foresight to take photos. Where did they find the time and the money?" There was an assumption that we were privileged, that we didn't have to work in cucumber fields, clean office buildings, or hot kitchens. It's just that those were the moments that were never captured.
I've been told numerous times by my peers that I should have an exhibition of my photographs because they're intrigued by my childhood. It's rare, they say, that I have so many photos. Sometimes I wonder how that's possible too? Like, how dare we ignore our poverty, our trauma, to pose for photographs."
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1984. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, and Theater Unbound. She is a Many Voices fellow in playwriting, Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion fellow, a Theater Mu New Performance fellow, a VERVE Grant for Spoken Word Poets recipient, and an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation scholar. Her work has been possible due to support from the Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the MN State Arts Board. She is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS (Theater Mu) and is developing two more plays for the KUNG FU ZOMBIEVERSE anthology of stage works. Get to know her at www.SaymoukdaTheRefugenius.com and keep up with her @REFUGENIUS.