Cultural art tour stopping in Twin Cities

“Coexistence,” featuring award-winning artists from around the world, aims to promote cultural diversity.

Hank Long

From Jerusalem to Sarajevo to Berlin, and soon to the Twin Cities, a touring outdoor art project is promoting cultural diversity.

“Coexistence,” which explores peace and understanding between cultures, will come to Minneapolis in May and St. Paul in June.

Stephen Feinstein, a University professor and program director for the University’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, first saw “Coexistence” while completing research in Berlin in 2002.

“I was taken aback when I first saw (the images),” Feinstein said.

Feinstein worked with project coordinators to bring it to the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis and St. Paul will work with the University to garner community involvement in “Coexistence.”

The project, which debuted in 2001 in Jerusalem at the Museum on the Seam, features 38 3-meter by 5-meter images mounted on large billboards and placed in urban areas.

“As you’re walking around them, you can’t help but be impressed by their physical size,” Feinstein said.

Award-winning artists from around the world created the images.

One of the pieces that will be on display is a black and white image that uses the Islamic crescent symbol, the Jewish Star of David and the Christian cross to spell the word “Coexist.”

Underneath each image are quotes from poets and writers reflecting on coexistence issues. The quotes are translated into English, French, Spanish and German. Hmong and Somali texts will be added for the Twin Cities showing.

“The idea is just to have a discussion and use art as a stimulus for thinking,” Feinstein said.

He said the Twin Cities is a great place for the project and a host of events will surround it.

Kelly O’Brien, the University public relations coordinator for the project, said several University departments will help organize and put on programs related to “Coexistence.”

Sabine Engel, program associate for the University’s Center for German and European Studies, said she will help coordinate a series of lectures in downtown Minneapolis during the first week of the project.

“It’s going to be an opportunity for the University to go out into the community and present what we do in terms of generating knowledge that enhances the possibilities for peaceful coexistence,” Engel said.

Allianz Insurance and the Regis Foundation, two area businesses, are co-sponsors of the project. Feinstein said the University will contribute very little financially.

“The idea was not to cost the University anything but time and energy,” he said.

The University, Minneapolis and St. Paul are looking for volunteers to help with the exhibit.