“RE/Vision”: Local artists Interact with Wing Young Huie at Augsburg

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RE/Vision: Interact Responds to Wing Young Huie is the kind of art exhibit that reaffirms there are still things right with the world. Like nationally acclaimed Twin Cities photographer Wing Young Huie. Like giving Interact artists a new and challenging opportunity for creative expression and artistic growth. Founded in 1992 and expanding their vision in 1996, Interact Center is a dynamic and creative organization for visual and performing artists with disabilities.

RE/Vision is hot. Visually and emotionally satisfying all at once. Filled with passion, intuition and a sharp edge of unfiltered free expression, the show comprises 13 of Huie’s black and white images and 17 paintings and drawings by some 13 Interact artists.

re/vision will be on display through september 18 at the christensen center art gallery, augsburg college. artists’ presentation: september 17, noon (minneapolis room, christensen center); closing reception: september 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

For the RE/Vision project, Huie presented Interact Center artists with an overview of his work and showed them photographs from several of his projects—including Lake Street USA, 675 photographs reflecting the people and places from a dozen disparate neighborhoods connected by a singular street; and Frogtown a collection of photographs, published by the Minnesota Historical Society as a book, of St. Paul’s diverse Frogtown neighborhood, depicting residents on the street, in their homes, backyards, at barbecues, at play, and during worship.

Over 20 Interact Center artists responded to Huie’s photos, inspired by both the artist and his work. The current exhibit at Augsburg College is a selection from a larger exhibition originally shown at Interact’s Inside Out Gallery at the Colonial Warehouse.

According to Kerry Morgan, coordinator of galleries and exhibitions at Augsburg, “the college’s goal is to have a wide representation of art for the students and the community. The Interact work is of high quality, art from a population not widely represented. As an urban campus, we try to collaborate with as many groups as possible. Wing is a well-known, community-based artist and Interact is a model organization.”

Interact Center’s visual arts program director/curator Welles Emerson, a sculptor in her own right, conceived the RE/Vision project. “It was an exciting experience for our artists to interpret the work through their own artistic lens. Some chose to reinterpret entire photos, she says, while others focused on a single element of an image.”

Working in a variety of media and personal styles, the Interact work shows an imaginative, sophisticated, and deeply personalized response to Huie’s work by artists unfettered by art-world protocol. There is not a clunker in the bunch.

Janice Essick’s jewel-toned marker-on-paper drawing reinterprets Huie’s photograph of 3 young, big-haired women in sunglasses with their babies, the Bryant-Lake Bowl in the background, to terrific effect. Essick has isolated the buildings against an abstract field of blue and has given the women even bigger hair to a sort of Motown-Supremes effect.

Hadley Rosenberg re-imagines Huie’s image of a cool dark church interior featuring a winding staircase and a statue of a saint to dramatic results. Painting the interior in greys, black, and white, Hadley has taken the liberty to place a naked winged Putti/angel figure at the statue’s base and a partially female nude figure in a throne-like chair with a blue snake coiled around her arm next to the Saint. Who knew?! What was a static scene is now a far more complicated narrative suggesting all sorts of possibilities. In an impressive transposition, Josh Thornberg created three variations on Huie’s image of a merry-go-round and riders. Drawing in pencil with very modulated strokes, Thornberg has put the three central riders and their horses into entirely new contexts: in a field with cows, in a field with a Moorish-looking city on the horizon line, and in a landscape with grass huts on stilts.

And this is just the start of it.

Mason Riddle writes on the visual arts, architecture and design. She has contributed to publications including Artforum, Metropolis, the Star Tribune, and the Pioneer Press. She is guest editor for the upcoming Public Art Review #39: Between Rural and Urban, which explores public art in the suburbs.

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