“I think it’s exciting to have North Minneapolis youth be able to create an intervention in a space that was not necessarily created for them. It’s a coup – something that can not only go in your portfolio, but it also says, ‘this is part of the genius of North Minneapolis and youth,’” says Roger Cummings, JXTA Co-Founder and Chief Cultural Producer about the project.
In 2018, Guthrie Theater received an Arts Access grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board with the intention of fostering relationships between the theater and nonprofit organizations in North Minneapolis. So, the Guthrie commissioned JXTA to produce a work of art that was influenced by the theater’s physical location and surroundings; specifically, the Mississippi River. Youth apprentices, teaching designers, and JXTA creative director Roger Cummings worked with the Guthrie to develop a work of art to complement the interior and exterior of the building, which was designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Luminous Current’s undulating form and colors mirror the neighboring Mississippi River, and the geometric shapes created and cast in blue light along the installation’s surrounding walls are reminiscent of the architecture of the neighborhood.
Designed over a period of two months, fabricated in collaboration with our partners Solid Metal Arts in three weeks, and installed on May 10, 2019, Luminous Current is now on view to the public and all visitors of the Guthrie Theater.
Though the JXTA ethos promotes a collaborative approach to all of our work, two apprentices, Temesgen Besha and D’Angelo Raymond, assumed leadership roles in this project. Besha, age 20, immigrated from Ethiopia, attended Wellstone HS, and currently works at MSP airport in the summer. He will be starting a Computer Science program at Augsburg University in Fall 2019. Raymond, age 19, immigrated from France, attended North HS, and is currently working at Atomic Data. Both had the opportunity to flex their creative muscles in producing concepts for this piece, working with imagery and ideas presented by the Guthrie.
“We created several prototypes, first out of wood, then out of Styrofoam. Our goal was to play with the transparency of the light. I got to make some Photoshop renderings of the sculpture, and I’m happy with how the final sculpture came out,” says Raymond of his role in the project. Through this work, D’Angelo and Raymond developed their creative skills, practiced using software and technology to develop their vision, and can now add this high-profile piece to their portfolios. Says Besha: “I’m proud to [have participated] in this project, from start to end.”
Luminous Current is the result of a long-time relationship with the Guthrie Theater, and will hopefully serve as a jumping-off point for similar projects.
“The most exciting thing [right now] is that there’s a very clear pattern of growth in the relationship between the Guthrie and JXTA…I’m really excited to see all the different ways that the different disciplines that JXTA teaches can be utilized in the Guthrie, and how all the learnings that JXTA has on their turf can be applied to this building and these people, and the very particular conditions that the Guthrie exists within,” says Daisuke Kawachi, the Community Engagement Assistant at the Guthrie.
The work serves as a beacon; a beacon illuminating our relationship to our natural surroundings, and also as one that highlights the creative genius of North Minneapolis youth and other creatives. Thank you to the Guthrie Theater for their partnership and support in this project and beyond. On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, we celebrated Luminous Current at the Guthrie; if you weren’t able to make it, check out more photos from the event on Flickr or Facebook.
Want a similar piece for your space? Interested in learning more about what JXTA can do? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation.
Photos: Adja Gildersleve; Riché Effinger; Adja Gildersleve; Riché Effinger
This activity is made possible 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. Video produced by Adja Gildersleve and Free Truth Media.