After an introduction to communities along the Upper Minnesota River Valley in the summer of 2012, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s (MCAD) Greater Minnesota Arts Initiative returned this past week with intent of furthering a mutually beneficial relationship.
Three MCAD fellows joined project community liaison Sarah Wolbert during an open house visit at the K.K. Berge building along with staff members of CURE, which serves as the local partner of the project. The event, attended by a couple dozen community members, provided an opportunity for the MCAD fellows to introduce themselves and their various fields of expertise as well as begin exchanging ideas with local residents.
“The basic premise,” Wolbert told event-goers, “is this idea of experiential education, wherein artist and designers from the Twin Cities come out to parts of the state where they may not have been before and start a process of listening to the community and learning a little about the nature of the place and things happening within the culture and then coming up with, from their own medium of work, a collaborative process where the three fellows work on a project that benefits the community some how.”
Such an exchange provides a unique, practical education for the artists while leaving the local communities with something behind that might add to vibrancy and vitality of the region. The plan, she said, is to gather a few hundred ideas that they then hope to whittle down to a few, which would then be implemented prior to the end of their eight week stay.
While Wolbert asked the audience to temper expectations as to the impact of such work, she noted that the integration of art into all facets of community development has been a growing trend.
As an example, she explained how St. Paul now employs an artist within its public works department. And one such development from the collaboration has been that every time a slab of sidewalk is replaced it is now done so with the stamp of a piece of poetry submitted by someone within the local community.
“So no matter where you’re going you might stumble across a piece of poetry that is written by your neighbor. And that’s just a little active unexpected surprise that makes your day hopefully a little better.”