Talking Suitcases: Gathering Life Stories in a Diverse World

11/17/2009 (All day) - 12/17/2009 (All day)

The Katherine E. Nash Gallery is honored to present Talking Suitcases: Gathering Life Stories in a Diverse World, an exhibition with performances and public/community events curated by Joyce Lyon and Susan Armington. The exhibition opens on November 17 and runs through December 17, 2009. A public reception has been scheduled for Friday, November 20, from 6-8:30 pm. All events are at the Nash and are free and open to the public.

Talking Suitcases are suitcases filled with handmade objects that tell personal stories. The exhibition displays Talking Suitcases created by Minnesotans of diverse backgrounds, with focus on issues of immigration, personal loss, and identity.

Events in November
Friday, Nov. 20 (6 - 8:30 pm)
Opening Reception (free and open to public).

Friday, Nov. 20 (7 pm)
Performance: Spoken word artist IBe Kaba.

Saturday, Nov. 21 (1 - 3:30 pm)
The Stories: Talking Suitcase creators tell their stories.

Events in December
Interactive Panels: The Art of Community Partnership
What can we offer each other? What does success look like?

Thursday, Dec. 3 (noon- 1:30 pm)
Panelists: Sandy Agustin, Neighborhood House; Tamar Ghidalia, Hmong American Partnership, and Amy Muse, University of St. Thomas, moderator Joyce Lyon, Dept. of Art.

Wednesday Dec. 9 (noon-1:30 pm)
Panelists: MeeOck Park, Korean Service Center; John Wallace, University of Minnesota, and Debbie Wolking, West Bank Community Development Corporation, moderator Joyce Lyon, Dept. of Art

Saturday Dec. 5 (11:00-1:00pm)
Curators' tour with Susan Armington and Joyce Lyon.

Events co-sponsored by the Immigration History Research Center; the Community Engagement Scholars Program, Career and Community Learning Center; and the Institute of Advanced Study.

The Nash Gallery is located in the Regis Center for Art, 405 21st Avenue South on the west bank campus of the University of Minnesota. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am - 7 pm. Parking is available in the 21st Avenue Ramp.
Map and directions

Talking Suitcases: Gathering Life Stories in a Diverse World
Talking Suitcases are suitcases filled with handmade objects that tell stories about personal experiences and what matters to people in their lives. Visually powerful artifacts in themselves, the objects become tools for speaking about experiences across differences of time, language and culture. A Korean woman recreates her escape by boat from North Korea using colored papers, wood bits, wire and fabric. A Minneapolis teenager creates a suitcase complete with stage and velvet curtain about his dream to be an actor. A Somali woman in chador, wielding a hot glue gun, builds a tiny cardboard structure surrounded by wood sticks with beads on top -- the streetlights and security camera she needs to feel safe in her Cedar-Riverside home.

The Talking Suitcases Project uses the creative power of art to allow people to find voice and empathize with the experiences of others.

Artist/educator Susan Armington first developed the concept of Talking SuitcasesTM in her own art, searching for a visual means to represent her father and his life, when he was faced with cancer. She saw firsthand the power of Talking Suitcases as a catalyst for telling stories and creating deep connection. She went on to develop the workshop process she uses to help others make their own Talking Suitcases.

The exhibit at Nash Gallery includes suitcases by Korean, Hmong and Vietnamese elders; schoolchildren from rural Minnesota and east St. Paul; high school students in the Twin Cities; and Cedar Riverside neighbors of Somali, Oromo, African American, Vietnamese, and Euro-American backgrounds. The exhibit also presents work by individuals on topics of Grief and Loss, Immigration, and Identity. Videos and photographs document making the work and telling stories in multiple languages.

Appreciation to the following for their generous support of the creation of the work: Arts for Academic Achievement, Carolyn Foundation, The Center for Grief, Hmong American Partnership, COMPAS Community Art Program, COMPAS Medtronic Arts Access Program, Integration Funding, Minnesota State Arts Board, St. Paul Public Schools, and the West Bank Community Development Corporation.

With the collaboration of: the Center for Grief, Dawson-Boyd Schools, Hmong American Partnership, Holdingford Schools, Intermedia Arts, Korean Service Center, St. Paul Public Schools, Southwest High School, United Theological Seminary, Vietnamese Social Services, and the West Bank Community Development Corporation.

The exhibition is made possible with the support of the University of Minnesota, Department of Art and funds from the Scholarly Events Fund of the College of Liberal Arts.


The Katherine E. Nash Gallery, created in the 1970s by founder Katherine E.

405 21st Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

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