Local artists utilize public space on campus for Weisman art project

by Juliette Crane

Students can expect to see theatrical performances at the firing range, receive parking tickets with secret messages and hear strange voices inside the Washington Avenue Bridge corridor this semester as local artists begin taking over public spaces on campus.
The artistic undertakings are part of the Weisman Art Museum’s Temporary Public Art Project.
The project was created in 1994 to give emerging Minnesota artists the opportunity to exhibit their work outside of the museum’s walls, anywhere on campus.
The Weisman commissioned five artists in July to put together three separate public art projects over the next three years.
Minneapolis-based artist Jeanne Francis Dietrich plans to transform the Washington Avenue Bridge indoor walkway into a gigantic mosaic of voices.
Dietrich will record students’ stories as they tell her who they are and why they came to the University. She will then play the stories simultaneously on speakers that will line the length of the indoor corridor.
Mural-sized photographs on transparencies will cover the windows of the walkway. When the bridge is lit up at night, the glowing photographs will tell another student’s story in sign language.
“The project could have been anything from handing out postcards on campus to putting up posters at bus stop terminals,” said Shelly Willis, Public Art on Campus coordinator.
The only requirement was that the artists design a project involving both the University campus and its community.
A team of University students will help Dietrich collect audio samples of students’ stories on campus. The artist said she hopes to give volunteers the opportunity to gain University credit through independent study for working on the project.
Dietrich said she intends the installation to be up for all of spring semester in 2001.
Artists Jennifer Chloe Gabrys and Nathan Anderson will work with students from the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to design a project focusing on parking rituals.
The group plans to interrupt everyday parking procedures like driving up to the ticket booth or following exit signs at several surface parking lots across campus. The interventions could be as simple as messages printed on parking tickets or electronic signs scattered throughout the parking facility.
Another artistic team, Charles Campbell and Steve Epley, plan to capture students’ attention in a three-part performance to be produced in collaboration with the departments of architecture, theatre arts and dance.
Together, they will produce a series of performances at various University sites they consider to be unknown or hidden to the public. Possible locations for the performances include the Armory Building firing range and the Civil and Mineral Engineering Building testing laboratories.
The Jerome Foundation granted $14,000 for each project this year. Artists involved with the project in the past were granted $9,500 each.
Previous artists were also limited to sculptural work designed to fit into the sculpture plaza between the Weisman and Coffman Union.
“We found the project applications were strongest in those who were doing work in other disciplines outside of sculpture and wanted to be able to consider those artists for the project as well,” said Gulgun Kayim, Temporary Public Art coordinator at the Weisman.
The artists are currently beginning research for their projects and have three years to complete the final pieces.
Students interested in volunteering to work on any of the public art projects can call Gulgun Kayim at (612) 625-9494.

Juliette Crane welcomes comments at [email protected]