Art Hounds: Art exhibition undresses the garment industry

Plus, a show at Kohlman and Pryor Gallery celebrates the color orange, and the Duluth murals by Moira Villiard

Art from 'The Geography of Our Clothes'
Fabric scraps collected outside of garment factories in Savar, Bangladesh and thread on paper.
Photo by Renee Yamada

Betsy Byers teaches painting and print-making at Gustavus Adolphus College, but she drove from her home in St. Peter, Minn., to see Rachel Breen’s show “The Shapes We Take” at Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis.

The large, multimedia work contemplates mass-produced clothing and the issues raised in their manufacture. Hand-sewn collage elements, colored pencil drawings and fragments of fabric scraps from a Bangladesh garment factory work together — not just to create striking images — but to draw attention to negative space.

“As I spent more time in the gallery,” says Byers, “I kept thinking of my own clothes and imagining where those shapes might have been cut from.”

As a painter, Byers felt a connection to the work. “There were all of the elements that you look for in a good painting,” such as color, texture, pattern and high contrast.

“The Shapes We Take” runs in-person and online through Feb. 14. The SooVAC gallery is closed to in-person visits on Jan. 30 and 31.

Caroline Alkire appreciates the Kohlman and Pryor Gallery’s cheerful response to the winter blahs. The northeast Minneapolis gallery exhibition “The Color Series, Part 4: Orange” includes paintings and sculpture by seven Minnesota artists. The styles vary, but they are united by color.

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“It’s really great to be able to enter a nice, warm space in the winter time,” says Alkire. “Coming into the gallery and seeing all of these orange pieces, it lifts your heart a little bit and makes you feel a little warm.”

The show runs through April 3, with an artist reception at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13.

Mural in Duluth
"Aanjibimaadiziwag Manidoonsag: The Small Spirits Are Changing Form" was created by Michelle Defoe of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Heather Olson and Aurora Webster. They had help from families at Steve O'Neill apartments and children submitted dragonfly designs.
Courtesy of Heather Olson

Daniel Oyinloye of DanSan Creatives in Duluth, Minn., loves the work of Moira Villiard. She’s a visual artist and community organizer who grew up on the Fond du Lac Reservation in northeastern Minnesota and now hails from Duluth. That’s where you will find her brightly colored murals at  Gichi-Ode’ Akiing park and on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus.

In Lincoln Park, Villiard’s team and artist Michelle Defoe of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe have covered a 60-foot wall with dragonflies, ricing and other images. The work is called “Aanjibimaadiziwag Manidoonsag” which means “The Small Spirits are Changing Form” in the Anishinaabe language.

Oyinloye says “color, light and flow” describe Villiard’s work. He says her community focus draws others into the process of creation.