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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

“Topography” exhibit at MIA uses colorful vinyl to represent Minnesota landscapes

Vinyl sheets stretched across wood frames create an abstract exhibit running until Feb. 25, 2024.
Image by Max Mueller
The art showcases the artist’s relationship to rural Minnesota.

With its recent exhibition, “Topography,” the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is showcasing an abstract use of color, material and form that will be on display until Feb. 25, 2024.

This exhibition allows viewers to see multicolored vinyl sheets stretched across wooden frames, creating a testament to artist Lisa Bergh’s relationship to rural Minnesota. The end product is a journey of shape, color and depth creating a subjective view of the midwestern landscape.

“The vinyl material is new for me,” Bergh said. “I began working with the material in the same way I manipulated paper. I am always interested in the materiality of things and allow the material of my work to be foregrounded.”

The “Topography” exhibit conveyed how an area’s natural and man-made physical features are arranged. The pieces reference landscapes of vistas and valleys, along with conceptual ideas of mapping.

Along with framed pieces, vinyl sheets are carefully stretched across wooden frames into a three-dimensional sculpture. As the geographical contours that characterize the exhibit perform this function, the structures create a sense of depth and texture.

One large sheet of dark blue vinyl cascading from the wall evokes the image of a waterfall, while another piece in the exhibit “Petite Beacon” uses wooden frames to create a sculpture depicting grain elevators and concrete silos.

“Lisa’s work as an artist is refreshing and unexpected, and the exhibition as a whole is a playful reminder of America’s ever-present constructed landscapes,” said Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the MIA, Nicole E. Soukup. “Topography encapsulates what Bergh does masterfully — using spectacle to create space for deeper engagement and dialogue.”

With the use of a broad range of vivid colors, each piece highlights a different aspect of the Minnesotan terrain. Color becomes a language unto itself as the hue of the vinyl creates a bright portrait across the frame.

“I use the language of abstraction in my work. I am always working to find the right balance of play between form, concept, intuition, intention, experience, and surprise,” Bergh said.

Bergh started her art career in photography and is currently an art instructor at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota. She is also the co-founder of The Traveling Museum, a program providing visual arts experiences in rural Minnesota.

The exhibit is part of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) at the MIA. Through the program, artists living and working in Minnesota can submit their artwork to be featured in the US Bank Gallery at the MIA.

“It is rare to encounter platforms that bring rural artists into the national dialogue with such regularity and sincerity as the MAEP does,” Soukup said.

“Topography” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art offers a novel perspective into the intersection of form and color, allowing viewers to actively participate in their visual journey.

The exhibition turns the showroom into a vibrant landscape that captivates and inspires through its creative use of multicolored vinyl. Visitors are sure to appreciate Bergh’s use of color, pattern, and shape as they walk through the gallery.

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