by BETSY MOWRY
“Immigration” isn't a dirty word, although it certainly sparks controversy and a barrage of negative emotions these days. From 2000–2005, more than 68,000 immigrants arrived in Minnesota. With so many issues swirling around our newest citizens these days, positive creative expression is a refreshing departure.
Contributions at Intermedia Arts is the fourth and final installment of Immigrant Status, a multidisciplinary arts series that sheds light on the many variations of the immigrant experience. Contributions was created by, for and about new immigrant artists, curators and community leaders. As with all of Intermedia’s programs, the exhibit is revealing and meaningful—not only providing an eyeful of sumptuous work, but truly enlightening viewers with firsthand narratives and stories.
fascinating dioramas of Persian artist Dr. Niccu Taffarodi invite viewers into
poignant scenes of daily life in Iran. The pieces in this exhibit include “Matbakh,”
a traditional Persian kitchen and “Masjed-eh Bagher-abad,” a Persian
mosque. Those displayed are only a handful of a total of twenty dioramas (all
available on her website at rememberingpersia.com). Created with an assortment
of miniatures, dolls and handmade housewares, each displays colorful, detailed
remembrances of Tafforodi's life.
The entire body of work certainly demonstrates the creative contributions these
artists and curators make, as well as the diversity and richness of life that
all cultures bring to our community. The genre of everyday-life scenes and belief
systems reflected in Taffarodi’s settings carries through in works by
Maheshware, Limón and Al-Mansour. Tafforodi thoughtfully states, “My
obsession with memories led me to try … to recreate my memories of Iran
through miniature art.” Certainly, this is a sentiment that many relate
Pieces by Shakun Maheshware of India show her talent at watercolor, batik and
photography. Her rich watercolors illustrate her mastery of the medium. The
assortment of photographs depict scenes of individuals waiting for rides: “Three
Sisters” and the delightful image of a small girl and hennaed forearms
in “Henna & Aisha.” The subjects appear as cheerful as the colors
used in these compositions, drawing viewers into the environment.
An artist since he was 8 years old, Mexico’s Betto Limón creates
sculpture and pottery full of expression. His “Movimiento Sobre La Tierra”
clay sculpture montage again reflects the theme of everyday life. Meanwhile,
his pottery suggests a balance of strength and whimsy.
Indonesian artist Toto Sugiarto’s oil paintings present a departure from
the joy perceived in some of the other work. His dark and dramatic images show
a flood of movement. The large “Stop the Boogyman” and “Angry
Semar” are especially arresting.
Hend Al-Mansour's ceiling-high screenprints “Al Badr” combine images
of women and calligraphy. The fabrics are beautifully rendered using elements
of architecture, colorful textiles, images and language to convey a story. Originally
from Saudi Arabia, Al-Mansour says, “My work explores religious and social
belief systems, especially those dealing with women, sexuality and understanding
Immigrant Status is a multi-disciplinary arts and community program series
initiated in 2002 in response to the loss experienced by Minnesota’s immigrants
following the death of Senator Paul Wellstone. It explores the impact of current
political policies and social conditions on new immigrants, who are defined
here as having lived in the United States for 25 years or less.
An array of compelling programs is scheduled in conjunction with this exhibit.
Brown bag dialogues on various topics take place the first Wednesday of each
month through January. A Talking Suitcases community art-making workshop
with Susan Armington and Carla Vogel will be held Sunday, Oct. 29. Additional
exhibits are available at the Sandy Agustin Gallery. ||
Immigrant Status: Contributions is on exhibit through Jan. 6. Intermedia
Arts is located at 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-874-2803 or intermediaarts.org.
Gallery hours are Mon.–Sat. noon–5 p.m.