It was almost a year ago that I wrote about an interesting piece of artwork installed at the Commons Park in downtown Minneapolis. This year I watched during my lunches as a new educational piece of art was assembled in the same location. The winner of the 2018 Creative City Challenge was Carry On Homes, a way to tell the stories of immigrants to Minnesota. The five artists responsible for the display are Peng Wu, Shunjie Yong, Aki Shibata, Preston Drum, and Zoe Cinel. The idea for the project came from the Carry On Homes documentary photography project.
The display was imagined as an interactive installation that envisions the home as an open structure. You can see the outline in the wood frames on each end with a peaked roof, but the walls are missing. One side of the structure has colorfully painted luggage while the other has white luggage. Between the two ends is a mirror reflecting a small garden. Hundreds of bag tags are attached to the luggage. Each tag asks two questions: what tips or tricks do you have for immigrants to have fun/survive Minnesota winters and what object would you bring along when migrating/relocating to Minnesota and why?
The answers to these questions were very similar. Find warm clothing such as a large scarf, hats, and mittens. Others were centered on activities like make sure to tour the state and take lots of pictures. In my other posts chronicling Minnesota winter activities you get a sense of the outdoor spirit of native Minnesotans that showed in these tags. Where is the sense in letting cold weather dictate what you do? What people should bring with ranged from photos of family and friends, blankets that remind them of home, to a resilient attitude.
I love the work that the City of Minneapolis Arts, Culture and Creative Economy program along with Northern Lights puts into this program each year. Last years Orbacles display started the discussion on the effects of climate change on migratory bird action. This years timely installation has visitors to the Commons thinking about what it would be like to immigrate to a new county and the meaning of home. These projects are up for six months and attract the attention of visitors to the city attending nearby Vikings games, a show at the Armory across the street, or downtown employees having lunch from a nearby food truck. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the exhibit through the picnic bench on one side, the stage on the other, or walking along the reflective wall. These annual displays, now in their sixth year, are just one site among many that artists use to spark discussion, change attitudes, and improve the health of society.