JillJohnsonVisiting artist Jill Johnson will be living in our midst at the Retreat House on South Main Ave in New York Mills for several weeks in April-May 2014.  Jill is a community cultural artist, which means that she researches folk and cultural art forms in Sweden and America and then creates new forms of folk and traditional art which becomes contemporary folk art.

In addition to being our current artist-in-residence, Jill is also is presenting her new site-specific installation The Piga Project: Women, Immigration, and Resilience at the Cultural Center now through May 8th in our upstairs gallery.Piga-Project-JillJohnson-LetterSize-96dpi

As a part of this exhibit and her residency, Jill will host several events on Sunday, May 4th, all taking place between 2-6pm:

Interactive Immigration Altar workshop, Sunday May 4th, 2-4 pm:  During this workshop, participants will explore meaning and belonging, the emigration/immigration process–no matter how long away one is from the time of immigration.  Participants will utilize concepts about frozen immigrant grief from the book Ambiguous Loss by University of Minnesota professor emeritus Pauline Boss.  Symbols will be created and utilized with the floating altar which is based on the permanent installation entitled First Generation by Esther Shalev-Gerz in Stockholm, Sweden.  The workshop is appropriate for all immigration groups from current immigrants to long-settled out communities and First Nations people.  

Visiting Artist Welcome Reception: Sunday May 4th, 4-5pm: Jill will kick off with a Poetry Reading, and share what she has been working on while on residency. This will be followed by open time for Q&A and informal conversation. Come meet Jill and enjoy light refreshments.

Spoken Word with Film Loops: Sunday May 4th, 5-6pm:  This is a one-hour presentation of spoken word poems and short repeat film loops from Sweden, illustrating the concept of memory.  This is from new work-in-progress that Johnson is working on during her artist residency in New York Mills.  “This is a big experiment with these film and spoken word combinations.  The spoken word illustrates the lives of the women in the dresses and the film loops remind us of the nature of memory– repeat, repeat, repeat in images.”

All events are free and open to all. Participants are encouraged to bring one healthful non-perishable food item for donation to a local food shelf.

Jill also will be teaching a free workshop for children at the New York Mills Elementary School-Aged Childcare program.  The workshop focuses on color, shape, and texture.  Our world is made of these three things.  Our clothing is made of these as well.  What do our clothing choices say to other people?  What do our clothing choices say about us?  Are there assigned meanings to color, shape, and texture?  Jill’s interactive workshop explores these ideas and helps students connect meaning to color, shape, and texture.  Students will have an opportunity to design a folk or traditional costume or superhero suit on paper, and work with other kids to design a “community folk costume” in the Five-Minute Folk Dress Challenge!