The shot less taken

McKnight Fellowships provide an opportunity for artists to expand their horizons

Katrina Wilber

The best way to create art is when there are no limits.

After receiving $25,000 in McKnight Artist Fellowships, four photographers put their creativity to the test. The result is “New Photography: McKnight Fellows 2003-04,” the Nash Gallery’s new exhibit.

The McKnight Foundation was formed in 1953 to assist artists and arts organizations in their creative endeavors. All sorts of artists, from choreographers and writers to musicians and photographers, are able to earn McKnight Fellowships.

“New Photography: McKnight Fellows 2003-04” showcases the work these four artists have created since May of 2003.

One of Xavier Tavera’s series, “Luchas,” is a set of six large color photographs. Four of the subjects are clad in professional wrestler-style costumes, complete with shiny gold or red-white-and-blue headgear. They proudly display their bulging muscles, their scars and their scrapes.

The other two wear referee shirts; one is an older man who almost jumps out of the picture and demands, “Ya wanna piece of me?” The other referee is a comparatively scrawny guy, but tough nonetheless with his crossed arms and chin-in-the-air, tough-guy stare.

The Spanish word “luchas” could translate to either, “you fight” or “fights.” All six men dare the viewer to give it a try, to jump in the ring and throw a few punches around.

All of Katherine Turczan’s black-and-white photographs are “Untitled,” perhaps to let each person form a title from how he or she sees the photograph.

A curly-haired little boy with a mask that looks carved from driftwood poses for the camera. He wears those grayish, elastic-waist jeans that are popular with elementary-school kids.

It’s a summer portrait; there are leafy, out-of-focus trees in the background and the little boy is shirtless. That’s not something you see in Minneapolis in December.

Terry Gydesen’s work is a journal in photos of two state

senators. Her photos are of

rallies outside the capitol, inside senate hearings, a half-open

office door and the action behind it, or a protestor with a handmade sign. The blurred arm that tosses a paper into the “Incoming” file shows the harried, hurried life of the arm’s owner.

Celeste Nelms put her photographs in random frames she found. A bright red apple split down the center holds two tiny photos, while a large, ornate frame houses a big, almost sepia-toned piece.

Her photographs look like they’re half a century old. The only thing that gives her time frame away in “Boxes” is the Mall of America in the background. A woman holding an armful of shopping purchases carefully bends over to try and nab that one last bag.

Also on display are works by three new faculty members in the Department of Art.

From McKnight Fellows to faculty members, the seven artists capture images of life that aren’t the usual subjects of fine art. Luckily, grants like the McKnight Foundation’s make this kind of experimentation possible.