The northeast bank of the Mississippi River features several neon landmarks of Minneapolis’ past: Pillsbury Flour, North Star Blankets, Grain Belt Beer. What if the message of one of those neon signs spoke to our relationship to each other as humans rather than consumers? Imagine the message “Collectively we support your Autonomy” shining from a rooftop in the night.
I have a commission to produce and install a neon sign with these words on the roof of the Soap Factory art center in Minneapolis, Minn. The wording of the text was inspired by what I’ve witnessed in the participatory art projects I’ve initiated over the last 10 years, but it could also describe my overall artistic mission.
In my projects, I work with others to create platforms where people can exercise their autonomy by claiming a right to public space - they can make their voices heard. This is also how I see the wider world functioning: groups of people creating structures of support that enable us to be self-determined individuals. This sign will remind us of all the people and structures who support us in our lives.
With this project, I’m turning around and asking for others to support my autonomy and help me claim public space of my own.
Become part of my "Collectively"
I want you to be part of what is an exciting next step for me artistically. My work in public space is usually short-term or ephemeral, but this sign will be a long-term installation. It's scheduled to “open” October 14th, 2017 and remain in place for at least one year.
The sign creates a conversation piece that raises questions about how we want to see each other and the kind of world we want to live in. This work is important to me because of the large, broad audience that can be reached with this format and location. The Soap Factory alone has 20,000 visitors in a year and is situated in a densely-populated neighborhood two blocks from the Stone Arch Bridge on the Mississippi River.
What will the money be used for?
Funding will help cover a critical gap in fabrication costs. It allows me to realize this project exactly as envisioned instead of compromising the visual appearance to meet existing funds. I have some funding from the Soap Factory and the Minnesota State Arts Board, but it’s not enough to execute the sign to the standards that are necessary for the project.
I’ve developed a number of gifts to thank people for their sponsorship, including original art related to the project.
Inscription -$5 Anyone donating $5 or more will have their name lovingly inscribed on the reverse of the sign's middle section. You'll be identified as part of the collective support system for all time.
Postcard - $25 A hand-written thank-you note on a postcard printed with an early design for the sign. If you were to ask my family, a hand-written note from me is rarer than anything else on this list.
Pin + Postcard - $50 A 1.25” round pin to memorialize your role as part of this project’s support structure and help you carry the message to an even wider audience. Plus the hand-written thank-you note.
Photo + Pin + Postcard - $100 A high quality inkjet print of the sign on location and lighted at dusk. I'm even going to pull out my medium format camera and shoot on color transparency film, as I want to capture the same quality you can see in this photo of a previous collaborative project. The print will be approximately 5 x 7” and matted to 8 x 10” for easy framing. You also get the pin and hand-written note.
Limited Edition Print + Photo + Pin + Postcard - $250 These East German shopping bags are hand-stamped with phrases about the service-fulfilling roles of participatory art and come from the same body of work as the sign. The bags are about 6 x 10” and hinge mounted to 11 x 14” rag paper. Five different phrases are numbered and signed in an edition of five. You also get the photo, the pin and hand-written note.
Hand-lettered Poster + Limited Edition Print + Photo + Pin + Postcard - $500 For this level of sponsorship, you receive a 22 x 30” poster hand-lettered by yours truly on 2-ply Bristol cover paper with 1-Shot lettering paint. I’ll letter your choice of the following words: community, support, conflict, or autonomy in pink, orange or brown. This will be mailed rolled in a box with the other items and will arrive by mid-December.
Risks and challenges
This sign is on a larger scale than I normally work. For this reason, fabrication of the neon sign and supporting framework are being handled by two exceptional companies: Ne-Art Custom Neon (http://ne-art.com/) and Marlaine Cox Metalworks (http://marlainecoxmetalworks.com/index.html). The three of us have spent the last several months finalizing the design to make sure it fits both aesthetic and practical criteria, so I am confident production will go smoothly.
Fabrication began at the end of August, and is scheduled to conclude by early October. The sign will be installed for an “opening” celebration on October 14th. Check the project updates for progress photos!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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