VISUAL ARTS | RAN ART targets General Mills with satirical posters and "scathing rock-and-roll"

A young RAN supporter delivers a poster to General Mills in an April 28 event sponsored by the organization. Photo courtesy RAN.

Substance, a local nonprofit combining music and activism, teamed up with the Rainforest Action Network to organize RAN ART, an art show designed to select a campaign poster for RAN and raise public awareness. RAN ART will take place May 1st at Tarnish & Gold Gallery. Rogue Citizen, a local artist collaborative, is co-sponsoring the event, which will also feature music from Kill the Vultures, Bouncer Fighter, and Phantom Tails. Doors for the event are at 7 p.m., with music starting at 9 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $7—or $5 for bicyclists.

The idea for RAN ART arose last summer, when Substance and RAN collaborated on the Tar Sands Resistance tour. RAN wanted to bring the issue of rainforest deforestation to the Twin Cities, and decided that targeting local corporation General Mills would be a good start. Palm oil is not a sustainable resource, and is used in 50 percent of consumer products, ranging from soaps to processed foods.

Nolan Morice, co-founder of Substance, described some of the goals behind organizing the event. "Broadly, we want to strengthen the relationship between the Twin Cities arts and activist communities, and see more collaborative projects like RAN ART," Morice said, "where the two can work together toward a shared goal. More specifically, we want to make more people aware of what locally-based multinational corporations like General Mills and Cargill are doing—and show the people of the Twin Cities just how much power they have to stop it."

The winning work at RAN ART will be the one most effective in its purpose as a RAN campaign poster about palm oil, and will spoof a well-known General Mills product to get the point across. One of RAN ART's submissions is being used as its event poster. Created by Rogue Citizen's Matt Wells, the piece depicts the Pillsbury Dough Boy trampling through a burning rainforest like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

"The core issue of palm oil production is at the heart of the show," said Wells. "And even if folks come for some scathing rock-and-roll, they should go home with compelling images in their mind—an awareness that half the products you buy contain oil often produced in inhumane, destructive and unsustainable conditions by companies hosted here in Minnesota."

The winning submission of RAN ART will be determined through a two-step process; first, a popular vote will narrow down submissions, then a panel of judges from RAN will select the winner. The exhibit will be on display at Tarnish & Gold through the month of May. [Update, 5/11/10: Unexpectedly, this exhibit has already closed.]

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Crystal Erickson's picture
Crystal Erickson

Crystal Erickson (toffee_rox [at] hotmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer and photographer, with preoccupations in hip-hop, art, and bicycle anarchy.