Arts and Culture

Weisman Art Museum pop-up exhibit will feature Black Twin Cities artists

The University of Minnesota Black Student Union is hosting the exhibit Wednesday until 8 p.m.

A person stands in a field with purple and blue colors around them
"Lessons Learned From the 12th House," featuring Amarah Otto.
Photo by Zoe Challenger

Updated: 5:50 p.m.

Artwork from Black artists around the Twin Cities will be on display Wednesday at the Weisman Art Museum in a pop-up exhibit hosted by the University of Minnesota Black Student Union (BSU).

The exhibit features work by 15 artists in a variety of mediums, including paintings, photography and a short film. The free exhibit will be on display from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to the public. 

The exhibit is part of a series of events hosted by BSU in honor of Black History Month. This is the second time the organization has coordinated an art exhibition, said Liya Gebremariam, BSU’s co-cultural awareness chair.

A person in light sings and raises their arms up
Untitled image of Sudan Archives, shot at the Fine Line for Carbon Sound.
Photo by Zoe Challenger

‘’We just wanted to give Black artists in the metro area … the space to showcase their work,” Gebremariam said. “We want Black art, Black artists, we want to see the entire creative spectrum and what that's like for the Black artists in this community.”

Although collaborating with the Weisman Art Museum originally seemed like “a far-fetched idea,” Gebremariam said she’s excited to be able to bring artists and students together in this space.

“The Weisman is proud to work with the Black Student Union on this project to showcase some of the talented Black artists at the U of M, and in our community,” said Katherine Covey-Spanier, the Weisman’s director of student engagement and public programs, in a statement emailed to MPR News. “WAM is so lucky to be able to tap the creative energy and passion of the campus community we call home. Student-led programs, like this one, are at the heart of all we do here.”

Zoe Challenger, a U of M student, is one artist who will be showing work at the exhibit Wednesday. 

A person holds their breast with one hand and red roses with the other
Untitled, pictured: Denaisha aka heavymetalgorilla.
Photo by Zoe Challenger

Challenger creates works in many mediums but chose two film photographs to share with attendees at the exhibit. 

“With this I kind of wanted to choose work that shows my experience with the sense of community in the Twin Cities, and express my relation to parts of the city to some extent,” Challenger said. “I am from St. Paul, so I guess I wanted to take the opportunity to show what it's been like living here from my point of view.”

While it was difficult deciding which images to present in the exhibit, Challenger felt compelled to share work as a Black artist in some capacity.

“Participating in Black history and further validating my own experiences, it's literally everything to me,” Challenger said. “I don't have a choice, it’s just simply my existence and I wish to continue supporting that for myself as well as being able to be there to support that for others.”

Gebremariam said she hopes people who attend the pop-up exhibit Wednesday find a place to connect with others, especially Black people who may feel “isolated or overwhelmed.”

“We’re just opening up the space as much as we can, so that we can pull in more students in general, because university life can be really exhausting, and really overwhelming,” Gebremariam said. “It's really easy to just feel super lonely. Having these events, I feel like it really helps to bring people together.”

A man sings into a microphone in a black and white photo
7th Street Entry, Philli Irvin, Zak Khan and Sawyer Brice.
Photo by Zoe Challenger