When I left Florida for grad school in Minnesota, I could not have predicted how wildly different (yet remarkably familiar) my life would ‘look’ two years and one degree later. In that time, I’ve come to fundamental shifts in what I believe art and education are/can be/should be. I currently have three projects installed throughout Minneapolis that exemplify/experiment with some of my current beliefs about art.
On view in the MCAD Alumni show In Another Voice are 7 of the (to date) 25 ‘chapters’ in Tell Me About Your Mother, a project generously supported by a 2014 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. My own experience with others’ art in galleries or museums or art centers has been that what’s installed is generally – if not always – the ‘final’ piece. Here, however, I’ve shuffled the sequence of the selected ‘chapters’ across three identical flat panel displays, a change from when I showed an alternate sequence of the work on both displays and projectors at Third Place Gallery late this summer (that installation was covered by Susannah Schouweiler at Knight Arts and by Miriam W. Karraker at Bitch Media). In the future, I’ll likely experiment with keeping viewers focused on a single ‘chapter’ in the presence of multiple displays.
At the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota, I wrestle my attraction to line/proportion/color against my deep belief that the keys to, I dunno, peace, purpose, healing, health, are in the everyday objects around us, in the meaning that we unconsciously imbue in those things, in the meanings that we unwittingly subject ourselves to because we don’t look at or listen to those things long enough. So, a briefcase is and always will be a harbinger for me; I will never (well, perhaps not never) carry a briefcase because of the reminder in Ellison’s Briefcase of the peculiar conventions that continue to conspire against the voices and achievements of the men I call ‘grandfathers’ and ‘fathers’ and ‘brothers’ and ‘sons’…
Happily, at the ‘boy’ house, where Peng and Kyle and Sean and Dennis live, is my ideal (re-)installation of Understanding: A Classroom, v.3, 2014 (it was a part of Chrysalis Stage, the Fall 2015 MFA show at Whittier Gallery in late September):
The ‘boys’ and their guests live with the piece every day. They can take a seat and read through Understanding: A Workbook v.3, 2014, or slip it into the cubby to use the desk as they see fit. The chair isn’t attached to the desk, so they can do with it whatever the chose. Once the three pieces are reassembled, it becomes capital ‘A’ Art again! Perfection!!!
Allison Bolah is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The on-going project Tell Me About Your Mother, 2013 and its corresponding activities are made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.