Artist selected for Central Corridor light-rail stations

The Metropolitan Council recently selected artists to create artwork for the 15 stations that will dot the Central Corridor light-rail line, which will connect downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul via University and Washington avenues. Stations near the University of Minnesota will be located in Stadium Village and the East and West Banks. Nancy Blum, an artist from New York who has experience doing public transit art, was chosen to design the Fairview Avenue station in St. Paul and the East and West Bank stations. âÄúI really love making artwork for people that are traveling and I love supporting these new light rail systems,âÄù said Blum, who has designed public art for transit systems in New York, North Carolina and Washington state. Blum grew up in Illinois, went to college in Michigan and has taught and lived in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. âÄúEvery time I set foot in Minneapolis, I feel like I can breathe,âÄù she said. âÄúI am a total northerner at heart.âÄù Blum originally applied for the just the Fairview Avenue station , before getting the University stations as well. She is interested in sustainability themes, including education about green roof technology. âÄúThis light transit line is all about doing something that is going to help us environmentally,âÄù she said. âÄúThe University and young people are the leaders in what will become.âÄù Blum is also interested in linking the University and Somali community at the West Bank station, which will be shared by the University and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. However, artists alone will not make the decision. Station art committees, which comprise four or five individuals for each station, will help the artists reflect the desires of each community. Artists and committee members will work to reflect the history and culture of a community, and committee meetings will be open to the public, Laura Baenen, spokeswoman for the Central Corridor light rail project, said. Baenen said committee members are required to live near the station they signed up for. For special locations, like the University, at least one member of the committee has to be a part of the organization. Jessica Hill, a University alumna, is the community outreach coordinator for the University stations. Hill will take suggestions from students and University community members who want to have a say. Craig Amundsen, public art curator for the University , was involved in the selection process for the station artists. Communication skills and an ability to work with the community were important in choosing artists, he said. âÄúWe looked for artists who are able to somehow draw from the communities what their shared values are and express that in art,âÄù he said. âÄúI think we have an obligation to the University community to put public art out there that students and faculty and other users can learn from,âÄù Amundsen said. The Metropolitan Council will negotiate contracts with the artists, which cannot exceed $560,000 per artist, or $2.8 million total . Public meetings with the artists and the community will begin in December, with final design presentations in June and July of next year. The final designs must be able to withstand Minnesota’s climate and work around the construction of the station. Artists must also consider their materials, which could include anything from glass to paint.