The Gordon Parks Gallery serves a multi-faceted mission; to support the arts curriculum and cultural activities of Metropolitan State University, and to preserve the legacy of the 20th century multi-media artist Gordon Parks. As an academic venue, the Gallery is committed to providing educational opportunities for adult learners through internships, student exhibitions and related programming. As a civic venue, the Gallery is dedicated to exposing Minnesotans to the life and work of Gordon Parks through youth and community outreach programs. The Gallery is dedicated to showing the work of various subjects, media, forms and content by diverse artists, including emerging and established artists of various ethnic and cultural background.
The Gordon Parks Gallery is located in the Library and Learning Center on the St. Paul Campus at 645 East Seventh Street.
Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
No Friday hours during summer months.
To request accommodations for a disability, call Disability Services at 651-793-1540 or 651-772-7687 (TTY)
Show dates: April 26 – July 26, 2013
Opening reception: Thursday, April 25, from 4:30 – 7 p.m.
Realism in art has traditionally been thought of as a rejection to the romanticized image. In a contemporary world that includes virtual environments, there are new challenges posed to artists: What is real? What is surreal?
This exhibition features Minneapolis-based artists Raina Belleau and Howard Quednau who turn to folklore and the narrative to explore a different sense of truth. Belleau's manipulated animal sculptures and Quednau's skillful tiny model dioramas become playful, and sometimes dark, representations of altered realities and fictitious spaces. Childhood imaginings combine with adult sinister situations that question aspects of our daily lives.
Totem II by Adam Bucher
Student Salon 2013
Show dates: March 29 - April 19, 2013
Opening reception: Thursday, March 28, 4:30 - 7 p.m.
This exhibit pulls together a range of artworks by the students studying art at Metropolitan State University. The exhibit includes art minors, individualized study students as well as students that have taken multiple art courses during their program and nearing completion of their degree.
Some of the work shown here is representative of work created directly in the classroom such as Joy Faherty, Julie Haupert, Bryan Pyle and Tong Vang's work, while other artists such as Adam Bucher, Chad Clabo and Wesley Applequist have completed independent study courses to explore a wider range of media. The work exhibited exemplifies the vibrant and diverse talent at Metropolitan State University — from graphic screen prints, to mixed-media paintings, drawings, ceramics and digital photography.
Black and White, featuring the artwork of Ta-coumba Aiken, Joseph Norman and Gordon Parks
Show Dates: Jan. 24 – March 1, 2013
Reception: Thursday, February 7, 2013, 4:30 – 7 p.m.
A slide talk with Aiken and Norman will follow in Library 302 from 7 – 8 p.m.
Black and white can refer to a state of thought or reference the visual appearance of an object. In art, black and white is used formally to suggest space, contrast and/or a key in creating tonal gradations, or chiaroscuro.
In this exhibit, artists Ta-coumba Aiken, Joseph Norman and the late Gordon Parks have used black and white formally in three distinct different ways: Aiken with his playfully expressive marks in his large-scale acrylic painting—designating an ambiguous use of positive and negative space; Norman with his thoughtful approach to form through his use of light and shadow in his lithographic portfolio baseball series, Out at Home; and Parks with his documentation approach to a variety of his black and white portrait and landscape photographs, designating a place in time. Along with the formal qualities, each of these artists have also used black and white to suggest yet another element, the topic of race.
Like the visually engaging black and white tessellations of MC Escher, negative and positive imagery melt together to create cohesive wholes. In a similar manner, we see the potential to address meaningful content through the yin and the yang of these three artists' artworks.
Co-curated by Amy Sands and Erica Rasmussen
Open to Interpretation: Intimate Landscape
Show dates: Nov. 16 - Dec. 14 (closed Nov. 22-25)
Public party and exhibit opening launch:
Thursday, Nov. 15, 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
A good photograph tells a story, but it tells a different story to every viewer. These stories are fleeting, and can disappear from a viewer’s mind the moment he or she turns a page or walks into the next gallery. Open to Interpretation captures these stories by pairing the work of fine art photographers with the work of writers through a series of international juried book competitions.
The title and framework of Open to Interpretation addresses the human impulse to create art, as well as the human need to define or make sense of the work created. Artistic expression has long been a tool through which we share our individual and collective experiences. Inherent in its very existence, is art’s ability to communicate, engage, and inspire its audience.
At its most sublime, a work of visual art can transport us to a time, a place, a feeling, or a memory. It may be an entire image or merely an aspect of an image that serves as the connecting thread or conduit through which the work becomes a commentary on our lives: past, present, or imagined. Clearly, the power and meaning of art does not lie solely in the mind of its creator.
Open to Interpretation facilitates this collaboration between artists and writers, and later, between the artists, writers, and their viewers/readers. Each volume in the series begins with a themed call for photographs. The selected images then become the inspiration for writers’ submissions, from which two are chosen to accompany each image.
The resulting book of photographs and their literary counterparts deepen not only the investigation of each photograph and written piece, but also the dynamic interplay of the “joined” works. The audience therefore, becomes an integral part of the ongoing conversation about how art is experienced, perceived, and interpreted. Certainly, there is no end to this discussion and the narratives presented here — be they pictorial or written — will orever remain, open to interpretation.
Mahpiyato k’a Maka (Sky and Earth)
Show dates: Oct. 12 - Nov. 9
Reception: Thursday, Oct. 11, 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Talk by Dakota scholar Jim Rock and quilter Gwen Westerman: 7-8 p.m.
Guest Curators: Jim Rock (Sisitunwan Dakota), Dr. Roxanne Gould (Odawa/Ojibwe)
Annette Lee (1 image):
- Building Community Around the Star Knowledge (center)
Dr. Gwen Westerman (2 images):
- Mitakuye Owasin-All My Relations (left)
- We Come from the Stars (right)
At its Heart, this exhibit, Mahpiyato k’a Maka (Sky and Earth) is about being a good relative in our immediate and extended Universe…here, now and always. We are the Oceti Sakowin Oyate – The Seven Star-Fire Council Nations representing the Big Dipper and/or Orion Stars as the four Dakota Nations, the two Nakota Nations and the Lakota Nation, now spread over 500 miles to the Black Hills but beginning here in Mni Sota Makoce. Wakan Tipi is the sacred cave below the ancient, limestone bluff overlooking the Wakpa Tanka (“Big River”/Misi Zibi in Ojibwe). There are caves below the few remaining burial mounds upon the bluff above Imniża Ska, the “White Rock” of artesian waters. Water once held in glacial aquifers still flows from the cave and is filtered by the recently restored wetland before joining the Wakpa Tanka River.
Wakan Tipi, a sacred site for centuries if not millenia and the Dakota Garden of Eden, was changed into a toxic waste dump due to the railroad, brewery and others. Only very recently was it partially restored into a sanctuary through community and tribal efforts. This exhibit tells this story and shows the relationships between the Star by the Milky Way above, and this sacred Cave beside the River below. We commemorate our Indigenous, Earth-Sky cosmology at this place representing our, sacred Star-Cave, Milky Way-River symbolism, presence and relationships over the millenia.
Mahpiyato k’a Maka: 2012 is conveyed by five Dakota artists, professors, scientists and storytellers by way of star quilts, paintings, beadwork, the moccasin game and live, visual interaction components which are braided, tied and/or leaned together like the Wakan Tipi tipi poles between the Sky/Star/Milky Way/Road and the Earth/Cave/River/Tree at this place and time.
by Pao Houa Her
Reception: Thursday, Sept. 13, 4:30-7 p.m.
Show dates: Sept. 14 - Oct. 5, 2012
The photographs of Pao Houa Her from her series, “The Metal Bird,” are at first glance beautifully sensuous, infused with pungent color. That surface shimmer however, masks underlying tensions of cultural and personal awkwardness. They are for the most part typical scenes of family life: children playing, dressing up, in moments of solitude, real and plastic food, and the incidental adult. Emotions are restrained, even when a baby cries.
I recognize much in these photos. I feel that they could be my relatives, and then a kind of uneasiness unfolds. Those mixed feelings are perhaps universal when it comes to rendering familial realities. Or perhaps they become particularized when cultures bleed into one another, when exoticism and familiarity intertwine.
Both Pao and I try to make photographic sense of our hyphenated American experience. While I come from a more traditional documentary approach, the world Pao evokes is modernist and deadpan. It also describes a traditional female space of domesticity and backyards. In terms of photographic lineage I detect echoes of Sally Mann. Her book, “Family,” which the New Republic called one of the great photography books of our time, “is a singularly powerful evocation of childhood from within and without, tender and vertiginous and scary, employing a large photographic vocabulary to render precise ambiguities.”
But to be female and Hmong carries it’s own special weight. As ethnic minorities in Laos, this hill tribe people were subsistence agrarians and a highly patriarchal society that had no formal writing system until the 1950s. They became dislocated refugees when the CIA recruited them to fight against North Vietnamese Army intruders into Laos during the Vietnam War. And now, in St. Paul, Minnesota where Pao grew up, it is home to some of the highest concentration of Hmong in the world. But the idea of home to the displaced is a curious concept.
Pao writes: “My perception and understanding of the American culture were fueled by books like the Sweet Valley High series and American Girl series and television shows such as MacGyver, Saved by the Bell and Full House. This was coupled with Hmong classes out of concern that I would lose the traditions of my culture. Like most second generation Hmong American, I am caught between two worlds, one I was to embrace and the other I need to hold onto."
“As a people, our history and journey are hidden in the woven tapestries of our women. These tapestries are illustrated narratives. I see the act of photography as an artistic practice integral to Hmong culture. Hmong artists and the Hmong community are still developing a language for this contemporary medium. My goal is to be a part of that development through my photographic practice.” --Guest curator, Wing Yound Hule
Weaving to Survive
Reception Date: Thursday, April 19, 5-8 p.m.
Show Dates: April 20 – July 26, 2012
Weaving Demos: April 23, 1-3 p.m. and April 28, 2-4 .pm.
This exhibition features traditional Lao weaving by Bounxou Chanthraphone Daoheuang and Laddah Insixiengmay. Regarding the exhibition, guest curator and Executive Director of the Textile Center, Margaret Miller has said, “Growing up on a silk farm in Laos, Bounxou learned to spin, dye and weave from her mother and grandmother. At age 16 she began formally study of the weaving techniques and designs of her region. Then in the mid 1970’s Bounxou was forced to flee her war-torn homeland. In the middle of the night disguised as a fisherman she rowed across the river to a Thai refugee camp. Leaving everything behind she carried with her only her loom’s reed. At the camp she waited until Laddah her 8-year-old daughter could be smuggled across the river. During the three years they spent in the camp Bounxou managed to sell her gold jewelry to buy lumber for a loom and thread to weave. She was able to sell her work to foreign visitors so she could buy food for her daughter. After arriving in the States, Bounxou continued her love and passion for Lao weaving while working to support herself and her daughter. She has taught many classes to the Lao community determined to carry on the tradition. Now she is teaching her daughter, Laddah the intricacies of the complex techniques and designs.” This exhibition simultaneously celebrates the weaving traditions of Laos and the extraordinary commitment that these artists have made to preserve their cultural heritage.
Student Salon 2012
Reception Date: Thursday, March 22, 5-8 p.m.
Show Dates: March 23 - April 13, 2012
The Student Salon 2012 features multi-media works produced by Metropolitan State students, enrolled in undergraduate programs. From two-dimensional works made of handmade paper to black and white photography, this exhibit surveys the diverse form and content explored in class and beyond.
Reception Date: Thursday, Jan. 26, 5-8 p.m.
Show Dates: Jan. 27 – March 2, 2012
Program Date: Feb. 9, 7 -8 p.m.
Voyage features the mixed media sculptural work of Chilean-born artist Alonso Sierralta, Minneapolis. Regarding the exhibition, guest curator William G. Franklin, Saint Paul, has said, “Few sculptors succeed in making their craftsmanship and aesthetic philosophies effective enigmatic personal and universal narratives. Sierralta’s constructions are assembled as if organic forms serve to voice deep existential ideas about man’s physical and spiritual condition. Sierralta’s implementation of varied media and scale in his work can been seen as a poetic struggle from which three-dimensional revelations are born. He is an artist distinctly capable of converting sensations into forms, of achieving transmutation. The selected eleven pieces in this show are some of Sierralta’s finest artistic deliberations, a great opportunity for The Gordon Parks Gallery visitors to experience some of his sculptures in conversation with each other.” In addition to the exhibition, the artist will deliver a slide lecture in the Ecolab Community Room (adjacent to the gallery) on Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 7–8 p.m. In this presentation, Sierralta will discuss the conceptual underpinnings and methodology of his sculptural practice. A short film by Franklin regarding Sierralta’s work will be screened as well.
Films about the artist available on YouTube:
Mixed Media: The Faculty Show
Reception: Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011
Show Dates: Nov. 11 – Dec. 10, 2011
This exhibition features the creative works produced by a number of Metropolitan State’s arts instructors. From paintings and drawings to photographs and paper garments, this show highlights the multi-disciplinary efforts of Resident and Community Faculty. Participants include: Joseph Flores, David Means, Amy Sands, Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, Anne Sugnet, Pamela Valfer and Petronella Ystma.
Material Memory: The Art of Recycling
Show dates: Oct. 14 – Nov. 4, 2011
Reception date: Thursday, Oct. 20, 5-8 p.m.
In 1992 Ian Jacknis of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley, California, wrote, “Like collage in art or quotations in literature, the recycled object carries a kind of ‘memory’ of its prior existence. Recycling always implies a stance toward time – between past and present- and often a perspective on cultures – one’s own and others.” Like the adage associated with the Great Depression ‘waste not, want not’, some contemporary artists breathe new life into sculptural objects by working with the detritus of a consumer culture instead of adding to the global scrap heap. Alan Wadzinski and Jan Elftmann do just that. Perhaps these artists can inspire us to reconsider a material’s potential in our daily lives.
Relative Remains by Jody Williams
Reception: Thursday, Sept. 15, 5-8 p.m.
Show dates: Sept. 16 - Oct. 7, 2011.
Relative Remains features William’s diminutive and meticulously executed artist's books, boxes, and prints. Inspired by the natural world, its small inhabitants and her need to create order out of chaos, Williams has said, "A number of experiences influenced this focus, including intensive beachcombing on Nantucket, a commission to create a Cabinet of Curiosities for the Carleton College Library, a class at Hamline University in the natural history of Minnesota, and a semester of collecting specimens in County Clare, Ireland." Although not overtly didactic, the works in the show have ecological and philosophical underpinnings. Many of the featured creatures were chosen after several months of research regarding their physical form and their ability to adapt to environmental challenges. Moreover, these artworks serve to remind us of our own tenuous existence, for we as a species are young in comparison to some of these prehistoric invertebrates.
Esperanza by Carolyn Kallenborn
Reception: Thursday, March 24, 4 - 7 p.m.
Show dates: June 9, 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Regarding the work, Kallenborn has said, "The work in this exhibition was inspired by the improvisational and interactive alters that I have senn during my time in Oaxaca, Mexico. Esperanza means hope. This exhibition is my public ofrenda, or my alter. It is a physical manifestation of my wish or desire for healing for myself and our world community. With objects and interation, I hope to create a place of reflection and memories of those things that are important in life."
Student Salon 2011
Reception: Thursday, March 24, 4 - 7 p.m.
Show dates: March 25 - April 15
Student Salon 2011 features multi-media works produced by Metropolitan State students, enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs. From sculptural objects made of paper to photographic abstractions, this exhibit surveys the diverse form and content explored in class and beyond.
In the Spirit by Ta-coumba Aiken
Reception: Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011, 4 - 7 p.m.
Show dates: Jan. 28 - Feb. 25, 2011
In the Spirit is a solo exhibition by St. Paul painter Ta-coumba Aiken. Through mixed media paintings on canvas and blown glass, Aiken executes figurative imagery that morphs into abstraction. Although the Civil Rights, the Black Arts and the hippie movements have influenced Aiken’s work, the artist suggests that this latest body of work was inspired by his ancestors’ voices. Regarding his paintings, Aiken has said, "I create my art to heal the hearts and souls of people and their communities by evoking a positive spirit."
Hopes and Dreams: the 2009 MOSAIC Commission
by Sean Smuda
Reception: Thursday, Nov. 11, 4-7 p.m.
Show dates: November 12 - Dec. 10, 2010
Hopes and Dreams: the 2009 MOSAIC Commission is a series of multicultural portraits by photographer Sean Smuda. Every year the commission is awarded to an artist in a different medium to celebrate the cultural diversity of Minneapolis. Regarding the collection, Smuda has said, "The 20 portraits I’ve created for the MOSAIC Commission were done in and around the Midtown Exchange in south Minneapolis. In their microcosm of diversity they show, in part, the diversity of the city as a whole. Given a set of questions entitled ‘Hopes and Dreams,’ participants were asked to write and draw their own dreams while thinking of the changes from Martin Luther King to Barack Obama. Layered with the writings and drawings of participants, and other sourced material, the portraits are a personal, geo-political meditation on individuality, diversity and the forces which travel between us."
Smuda will present a lunch-time slide presentation about the commission and the portraits. The talk is Thursday, November 18, from noon-1 p.m. in a room adjacent to the gallery. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunches. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.
Ten Years of Hispanic Posters by Luis Fitch of Uno Branding
Curated by Douglas Padilla
Reception: Thursday, October 14, 4-7 PM
Showdates: October 15 - November 5, 2010
Luis Fitch’s posters speak to both Latinos and Anglos, to young and old, to hip and square, to rural and urban. His work references and modernizes Mexican cultural history even as it communicates contemporary Minnesotan Latino community life. His art bridges the distance between the overtly commercial and the quietly nostalgic. And when Fitch strikes out in a political direction, he creates work that is both ironic and refreshingly humorous.
Weighing the Air: the Art of Collaboration
Reception: Thursday, September 16, 4 - 7 PM
Show dates: September 17 - October 8, 2010
Weighing the Air: the Art of Collaboration features artists' books by Julie Baugnet with multi-lingual poetry by Felip Costaglioli. This exhibition evolved when Baugnet (a professor of graphic design at St. Cloud StateUniversity) and Costaglioli (a professor of film studies, also at St. Cloud State) discovered their affinity for keeping journals over a cup of coffee. Baugnet was exploring book forms and studying French. Costaglioli was recording his thoughts in English, Catalan languages and French. The result is a rich inter-disciplinary exhibit of painted poems, some stretching as far as seven feet in length.
Gordon Parks: CrossroadsShowdates: May 22 - July 29, 2010
The Gordon Parks Gallery is proud to present Gordon Parks: Crossroads , the inaugural photographic retrospective celebrating the life work of one of America 's most accomplished 20th century artists. Photographer, poet, novelist, composer, musician and filmmaker, Gordon Parks (1912-2006) spent a lifetime shattering barriers in his pursuit of truth, beauty, social justice and artistic expression.
Student Salon 2010
Reception: Thursday, March 25, 4 to 7 p.m.
Show dates: March 26 - April 23, 2010
This exhibit features multi-media works produced by Metropolitan State students, enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs. From chalk pastels to felted abstractions, this exhibit surveys the diverse form and content explored in class and beyond. New to the exhibit this year is a collaborative writing project between the studio arts program and Haute Dish, the university’s on-line journal of arts and literature. A poetry competition was held that challenges Metropolitan’s student writers to respond to selected visual works in the exhibition. The three winning entries are exhibited alongside the artwork.
We Sing Our Songs
Reception: Thursday, Jan. 28, 4 to 7 p.m.
Show dates: Jan. 29 - Feb. 26, 2010
We Sing Our Songs is a photographic exhibit that provides opportunities for young Native American women to express their artistic skills, voices and leadership capabilities to the public. This exhibit has created new and effective channels of communication for the young artists represented in this show. The show was organized by the non-profit In Progress, which assists young people in developing their skills as storytellers, artists and leaders through the use of digital media.