VISUAL ARTS | At Intermedia Arts, “40 x 5” spotlights neighborhood communities


The 40 x 5 exhibit at Intermedia Arts, which opened officially on Tuesday, aims to build communities and inspire dialogue on social change through artwork. The project features the work of five photographers who document the changing communities in 20 different neighborhoods across the Twin Cities. The show exhibits the work of photographers Xavier Tavera, Dusty Hoskovec, Dick Ott, Michael Dvorak, and David Eberhardt, and is the third part in a series called What’s New? funded by OverExposure Media, a nonprofit that engages communities through photography projects.

Susan Boecher, the curator of the show and founder of OverExposure, identified the goals of the show as to “use photography to define the growing diversity and reflect social change in the Twin Cities,” to “strengthen neighborhood identity,” and “to create bodies of work that are used and intended to engage the community. I do think,” she continued, “those goals have been met.”

Beyond representing communities in a positive light through photography, OverExposure uses shows like 40 x 5 as the focus of open forums for communities which are often held to discuss topics like “how community art projects engage the community,” and “how art projects build community,” said Boecher—the next dialogue being held next Wednesday at the gallery. In addition to this, images from shows like 40 x 5 are provided for use to by neighborhood community organizations “to expand their marketing capacity and build community within those neighborhoods,” explained Boecher. “It’s a historic undertaking that’s not been done in the photography community yet.”

The show that exemplifies the work the gallery, Intermedia Arts, specializes in. Providing a platform for a range of artistic disciplines, both visual and performance, the gallery represents a range of communities and cultures. The artwork exhibited concentrates on “encouraging dynamic participation by a wide range of people and providing a platform for voices that often go unheard.” Their goal is to spark social change through the artwork they show. Theresa Sweetland, executive and artistic director at Intermedia Arts, described the gallery, which has been around for 37 years: “All of our work is dedicated to art that’s a catalyst for community change to opening up dialogue and discussion about what’s going on right here in our community and supporting artists to be changemakers.”

The artists, who were chosen for this show based on the quality of their work and their history of commitment to social documentary, each add their own unique perspective to the collection of photographs. Their combined goal is summed up by Michael Dvorak: “The people in my photographs are your neighbors. You probably don’t know them, but you are connected to them, as they are to you.” The 40 x 5 show, which lasts until the end of July, will help you make that connection.