Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Museum Life

I spent a month at the Minneapolis Institute of Art last year as artist-in-residence, in their library. The idea man behind the residency was Jay Peterson, of Coffeehouse Press, someone I'd known several years as my neighborhood bookseller. (My favorite places are bookstores and libraries.) So I went to the museum and spent days in their library of old art books. Stealing, mostly. I get my best ideas looking at art, and what better place than a museum? I gave a lecture after the residency. A kind of show and tell. That was over a year ago. Now, suddenly, the museum is 100 years old, and I feel as if I'd grown up in it. (To celebrate the milestone my friends at Pentagram did a brand makeover. It's now Mia.)

When the museum decided to do a centenary book, Brian Donahue (who designs the Macalester College magazine) kindly asked me to draw something for the cover, and Jeff Johnson (my editor from when I was writing for Minnesota Monthly) asked me to write a chapter. Fun projects.  Brian used the cover art on the title page too.

Here’s the opening page of the essay. I illustrated a couple of my essay spreads with art I’d done during my time there, explaining the process of art, which is mostly osmosis. Illustrating this book was sort of like returning the art I stole from them, or the ideas I stole, transmuted into something strange and new, but old.

Enjoy, but don't touch.