Virtual Exhibition and Art Speaks Conversations

Joan Mondale Gallery & Mary Giles Gallery •  April 19 – July 9, 2022

This special spring and summer exhibition showcases rising talent of early career artists from across the country – featuring the work of Hale Ekinci, Clare Hu, Dong Kyu Kim, Na Chainkua Reindorf, SHENEQUA, and welcoming Minnesota artists Kehayr Brown-Ransaw, Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa, and Nicole Thomas. The range of work and practices, unique to each artist, addresses myriad ways that textile materials, processes, histories, and traditions continue to be used today to tell stories and share narratives about individuals and communities, through the eyes and hands of makers.

Mini residencies allowed for research and the production of new work by Minnesota artists Alonzo Pantoja, Marcus Rothering, and Ceci Lewis. Their art work became part of the gallery exhibition in May, along with a new piece created just for the show by Program Coordinator, Ivonne Yáñez.

Art Speaks panel discussions, Family and Memory and Body and Place, were recorded to preserve the legacy of this program and a special Guest Teaching Artist class was led by Hale Ekinci, Symbolic Memory: Mixed Media Textiles, July 8 – 10, 2022.  (You can access the Art Speaks recordings by clicking on either title.)

This exhibition and related programming continues our commitment to outstanding, contemporary work being done by artists in support of underrepresented communities in the field of fiber art.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Organizations grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

This exhibition was on view at Textile Center, Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm, through July 9, 2022. If you are interested in purchasing a piece that is for sale, please call into Textile Center at 612-436-0464 between 10 AM and 4 PM, Tuesday – Saturday.

(Header photo: Details from Close Your Eyes, Lie in My Arms, Kehayr Brown-Ransaw; Support Network 01, 02, and 03, Nicole Thomas; The Most Famous Stars and Stripes, Dong Kyu Kim)

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Organizations grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

In the Galleries - Textile Center

Kehayr Brown-Ransaw

Kehayr Brown-Ransaw is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and curator based in (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Brown-Ransaw’s practice engages in conversations of individualism v. collectivism, familial histories, concepts of gendered work, tradition, and Blackness/Black identity through quilting, weaving and printmaking. His curatorial and teaching practices are concerned with access, representation, and the presentation of marginalized communities. 

Brown-Ransaw received a BFA in Furniture Design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has exhibited work at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, FilmNorth, Vine Arts Center, BI Worldwide, with public works at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Sculpture Garden and Franconia Sculpture Park. He is the recipient of a 2020/21 Emerging Curators Institute (ECI) Emerging Curator Fellowship, 2020/21 Jerome Early Career Fellowship, 2021 Franconia Sculpture Park Mid-Career Artist Fellowship, and 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery. Additionally, Brown-Ransaw is an active and operating member of the People’s Library, having exhibited works at and collaboratively in arts programming at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Soap Factory, Walker Art Center, and Minneapolis Institute of Art. He is the recipient of a FY2021 State Arts Board Creative Support for Individuals grant, 2020 Visual Arts Fund Community Relief Grant from Midway Contemporary Art on behalf of The People’s Library, and FY2020 Next Step Fund Award from the Metro Regional Arts Council.

Using an archive of family photographs, I create quilts to explore spatial and familial memory that confronts a whiteness-centered ancestral paradigm by challenging the individual, conceptualizing experience as communal, and questioning concepts of gendered work. Considering the life cycle of a quilt as a meditation on its historical context, both from its use as currency by enslaved women to gain access to white society and a utilitarian object, I consider the ways anthropologic and ethnographic systems of the museum and settler-colonialist Western perspectives have made it so that underserved communities seem non-existent.

I am interested in the ways in which abstract visual language and the presentation of works can challenge and subvert preconceived ideas about a single or group of peoples. As I embrace these histories, I seek to heal audiences through my work and redress narrowed populations. This research and the resulting objects embrace a sense of self as multitudinous and experiences of transgenerational trauma, producing an iconology of these experiences. I hope to create a tactile link between current diasporic experiences and those of our ancestors.

My newest quilts are reflection and meditation on an image of my mother with her sisters and mother, and an image of my grandmother. I wanted to consider the space they are in and the space they occupy in the image. Neither quilt represents or is built with a 1-to-1 recreation of the image, but is an interpretation of what I see.

Close Your Eyes, Lie in My Arms
Cotton fabric, thread, batting
Machine quilting

From Dust We Are Made, and Dust We Become
Digital printed cotton fabric, linen fabric, thread, batting
Digital printing, machine quilting

What You Gave, I Owe
Cotton fabric, thread, batting
Machine quilting

Hale Ekinci

Hale Ekinci (b. 1984 in Karamursel, Turkey) is a multidisciplinary Turkish artist, designer, and educator based in Chicago.  She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media at Columbia College Chicago and is currently an Associate Professor of Art & Design at North Central College. Exploring personal history, cultural identity, gender politics, and craft traditions, her works vary from videos to embroidery paintings embellished with vibrant colors, patterns, and autobiographical relics. She was recently a Facebook Chicago Artist in Resident. Her work has been exhibited nationally at EXPO Chicago, Studio Gang, Co-Prosperity, One After 909, Woman Made Gallery, South Bend Museum of Art, Koehnline Museum of Art, St. Louis Artists’ Guild, and Queens College Art Center. Her videos have been screened internationally, including New York City, Berlin, Warsaw, and Jerusalem. She completed residencies at ACRE, Jiwar Barcelona, Momentum Worldwide Berlin, Elsewhere Museum, and Chicago Artist Coalition.

Collaging together fiber techniques, found textiles, and photographs from family archives, my work explores phases of acculturation, immigrant identity, and ideas about gendered labor. Decorative fringes are influenced by Turkish oya (lace edging on a headdress) and its use of symbolic patterns that serve as a secret language between women to express private, personal sentiments. Adopting these methods of embellishment and encoding, I create intercultural portraits framed with oya on floral bedsheets. The transferred images of people get repeated or turned into patterns themselves to intertwine the “individual” into “collectives” that form multiple personalities. I then layer embroidery and painting to obscure their identities.

The used domestic fabrics hold personal and bodily history, invoking feelings of home and intimacy. By utilizing found materials and fiber crafts, I question the value and worth assigned to materials and women’s work. The draped fabrics are framed with colorful crochet, where I crudely mimic traditional oya styles or devise new motifs reflecting my contemporary reality within the coding. Similarly, my use of Islamic ornamentation juxtaposed with portraiture is a subversive strategy. Seeming as mere beautification, ornamentation can trigger tension between the focal point and the motifs by teasing our vision’s periphery and overwhelming the figure it initially sets out to embellish. This echoes the different strategies of acculturation: integration, separation from, assimilation to, and social marginalization. Mimicking this ploy, the ornament and the figure perpetually displace each other as the core of identity and the other.

New House
Solvent photo transfers, embroidery floss, acrylic yarn, acrylic paint, found bedsheet, wood
Crochet, sewing, embroidery

Travel Pillow Collar Necklace
Solvent photo transfers, acrylic yarn, glass beads, embroidery floss, sequins, polyfill, found nightgown collar
Crochet, stitching, embroidery

Untitled Easterners
Solvent photo transfers, embroidery floss, acrylic yarn, acrylic paint, found bedsheet
Crochet, embroidery

Who What Where Are We From?
Solvent photo transfers, acrylic paint, acrylic yarn, embroidery floss, glass beads
Crochet, stitching, embroidery, beading

Clare Hu

Clare Hu is an artist and weaver, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She completed her BFA with a focus in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and has received additional training in textiles from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in the Netherlands. Hu has shown widely in Chicago, IL at No Nation Gallery, Gallery No One, Dfbrl8r, and Sullivan Gallery. Recent exhibitions include the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY and Dream Clinic Project Space in Columbus, OH. She is a past Hambidge Center fellow and resident at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. In 2022, Hu will be a visiting artist at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.

Haptic skips of woven textiles gone awry, the distortion of image dictated by the hand, and games of hide and seek inform the use of weaving, mended imagery, and installation to examine false histories and notions of the South. By utilizing slow craft, I draw on my experience living in the Southern United States and her research documenting and archiving how Southern narratives are made and maintained throughout the history of Georgia. By exploring how Southern myths are acted and re-enacted in the stories and objects surrounding them, I iteratively piece, mend, and patch as a way to respond and dissect the physical and personal distances between cultural spaces – both set afar and rewritten one on top of the other.

A tarp becomes a boundary, dividing the complete with the unfinished – a blinder, hiding spaces that become momentary place holders. Images taken from my family photos are printed onto warp to then be distorted by the tension of the hand. Making use of woven offcuts, Southern iconography, and collage, prospective patches are both used and exhibited as objects in action. The blurry edges of vision are magnified, piecing together moments of personal narrative to subvert larger myths of the South. Creating patches for unmaterialized textiles becomes a guarded optimistic practice, used to conserve personal places in memory and allow space to consider something new.

5010 Bankside Way
Cotton and various yarns, digital image, cotton duck, thread, hardware
Triple weave, overshot weave (Lee’s Surrender), warp painting, silkscreening of Stone Mountain map taken from the Chinese Yellow Pages- Southeast USA, digital printing, sewing

Prospective Patch 3
Cotton and various yarns, thread, cotton duck
Double weave, warp painting, silk screening, sewing

Prospective Patch 4
Cotton and various yarns, cotton thread, cotton duck, found fabric
Double weave, warp painting, silk screening, sewing

Prospective Patch 6
Cotton and various yarns, cotton thread, cotton duck, found fabric
Overshot weave (Lee’s Surrender), double weave, silk screening of Stone Mountain postcard, digital printing

Dong Kyu Kim

Dong Kyu Kim is a mixed-media artist and fashion designer whose works are constructed of paper receipts, tickets, and other materials collected over the past 15 years since relocating to the United States. All his materials are sewn together by hand. Kim’s work explores his relationship to the U.S., the concept of the American dream, and how individual lives are affected by transitions in global economic structures.

Kim has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. He recently received a 2021 New Jersey Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and his work has received awards from many institutions, including the Florida State University Museum of Arts, FL; Oklahoma State University, OK; Minot State University, ND; and many others. He received a BFA in Fashion Design at Kookmin University, Seoul, South Korea.

My work is composed of paper receipts, tickets, envelopes, and documents, as well as plastic and paper shopping bags and stickers. Each item provides a record of my various activities at a particular place and time. The receipts and shopping bags represent capitalism, consumerism, and my aspiration for wealth, status, and success. As I experienced the radical reshaping of the global economy, along with increasing globalization, I became obsessed with the capitalistic ideals of money, fame, and success. My work asks questions about the impact of American capitalism on one’s values. It is an examination of the roots of our desires, and how we determine value. I sew the papers and other materials together by hand to create a patchwork. The repetitive and meditative act of stitching abandoned objects, leftover, or discarded things (not special, unnoticed, undiscovered) helps me to record the passing of time and highlights the sanctity of labor.

Consuming Memories #10
Paper receipts, threads, tickets, microfiber cloths
Hand stitching

My Body is a Battleground
Face masks, laser print photos, thread
Hand stitching

The Most Famous Stars and Stripes
Paper receipts, threads, micro fiber cloths
Hand stitching

The Unanswered Questions #2
Paper receipts, threads, tickets, microfiber cloths
Hand stitching

Ceci Lewis

CONTINUUM Artist in Residence

Ceci Lewis has been an artist, photographer, quilter, and garment sewer for more than fifty years. She works with indigo and other natural dyes, and imagery using the human figure is prominent in her work. Utilizing and teaching sustainable practices, along with exploring the narrative, is her specialty. She has cultivated a rainbow of natural dye colors in her postage-stamp-sized yard, and has shared natural dyeing with more than a thousand children in the metro area. Lewis served a lead artist in collaboration with Penumbra Theatre, Textile Center, and many talented quilters for “Black Nativity”. Her quilt, New World, is part of the Minnesota History Center’s permanent collection.

Artist residency public visiting hours: Tuesday, June 7 & Thursday June 9, 1 – 3 pm
Stop into the dye lab to see Ceci working with natural dyes

These two pieces contrast the differences between machine stitched shibori and hand stitched shibori, both in natural indigo on linen.

Chalice is inspired by the work of Shibori Master Motohito Katano, formerly a painter and then expert natural dyer whose work in indigo and other natural dyes serves an inspiration to many shibori artists today. It is an example of machine stitched resist.

Untitled is natural indigo on linen and cotton with linen binding. The shibori resist is all hand stitched. This Noren panel is typically hung in a window for two reasons: luminosity – how the daylight illuminates the design on the cloth, and to provide privacy. I live in the city where the houses are close together and I don’t like to close the window coverings. This is my practical, enchanting solution. My own private moon!

Linen, natural indigo
Machine stitched resist shibori

Linen and cotton, linen binding, natural indigo
Hand stitched resist shibori

Alonzo Pantoja

CONTINUUM Artist in Residence

Alonzo Pantoja is a queer, brown artist and educator – he earned his MFA in Fiber and Installation from Minneapolis College of Art and Design; BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During his undergraduate studies, they did international coursework in contemporary art, architecture, and design in Almere, Netherlands; and in art history, painting and drawing at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy.He has participated in solo and group shows in spaces such as: Nefarious Contemporary (MD), Fluffy Crimes (IL), Var Gallery (WI), Yours Truly (WI), Minneapolis Institute of Art (MN), Nemeth Art Center (MN), Textile Center (MN), Circa Gallery (MN), Normal Residential Purposes (MN) to name a few. They have been featured in Tence Magazine, Hyperallergic, The Coastal Post, VASiSTAS Magazine, and Design & Living Magazine. Previously, he was a resident at Ox-Bow School of Art, a fellow at Arrowmont School of Arts and a nominee for the Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship in Painting and Sculpture.He currently lives in Minneapolis, MN where he teaches at Augsburg University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Textile Center.

Pantoja’s work pictured below was created during their artist residency at Textile Center in May 2022.

In my work I am interested in navigating spaces by making handweavings that address queerness, orientation, and impermanence. Working within a space I use the entryways, windows, lines on the floor, walls, the light in the room, among other objects. When I work I think about how viewers would navigate the space in relation to the weavings. Where do the viewers stop to rest? How do they approach the work? How does the space echo?

The work I make comes from a place of sharing. As a queer artist, I am interested in centering queerness as a collective and personal contribution. Queerness is on a horizon and what I offer as a queer, brown person is a point of view that contributes to queerness as a whole. Ultimately, I am interested in investigating spaces in the simplest form – navigation and adaptation.

My practice is rooted in three main points: areas of research, an open land, and ways of seeing. The areas of research are ongoing and speak to the overall framework of literally having different areas of research (queerness, orientation, space). The open land is a metaphor; it references queerness being an open land of possibility, hope and forwardness. Lastly, ways of seeing are forms of orientation – how do we encounter work from different points of view? – but also how do we “see” queerness.

Untitled (rainbow #1) windows
Yarn, clear monofilament, nails
Hand weaving, tapestry weaving

Na Chainkua Reindorf

Na Chainkua Reindorf, born in Ghana, is a mixed media artist and myth maker. Her work, which ranges from large-scale tapestries to immersive sculptural installations, is an exploration of and an ode to the rich cultural history of West African textiles, focusing largely on the complexities and visual culture surrounding masquerades and ceremonial costumes. She incorporates contemporary materials into her work, using these historical textiles and costumes as inspiration to investigate ongoing social topics centered on the politics of dress, identity and gender and their close relation to culture and tradition. Reindorf has exhibited internationally in institutions across the United States, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Ghana.

The words text and textile share a common Latin root with the word texere, meaning to weave. But the connections are more than simply linguistic; they are also cultural and historical: from books wrapped or bound in cloth, to tapestries and embroideries used to depict legends, fairy tales, and other narratives.

My work resides at the intersection of the cultural and historical where textiles, those relatively commonplace objects such as scraps, threads, and the patterns they merge to create are meaningful, both symbolically and culturally. This is especially true in West Africa, where they are considered to be treasures, heirlooms, and mediums through which the average person can literally weave their personal and collective narratives.

As a Ghanaian-born woman artist, I find that engaging with textiles provides a unique path toward (re)claiming agency in self-expression. In my work, I examine the histories of West African textiles, especially within masquerade societies, focusing specifically on their significance to a particular region, how they have been constructed, what they are used for and what sorts of materials are used in making them. I am also interested in taking apart the values assigned to these textiles, often defined by gender, and as belonging to the domestic sphere; in practice that means literally taking apart the textile itself so that it exists as a sum of its parts. These parts are what I reinterpret by employing a range of materials that I then use to construct and reconstruct what becomes my work.

The “piecing-together” or weaving what symbolically becomes a new material text for the audience to read and engage with requires a repetitive process, one that emphasizes the time, effort, and labor often associated with traditional weaving methods. Techniques include the more conventional weaving, threading, and stringing of organic materials while incorporating other objects such as hand- sanded glass beads and bits of wire to create works that reference and pay homage to traditional textiles while expanding the definition and function of the final product. In doing so I aim to push the limits of what a textile can be and often incorporate dimensionality into the works I create, making the space as important as the artwork itself. Transforming the space is a crucial part of my practice because in doing so my work takes on an embodied, sculptural effect, allowing for a multisensory experience where the audience plays an important role in meaning making, shaping the narrative, and bringing the object to life.

Glass beads, nylon thread, cotton yarn, dowel
Weaving, beading

Artwork courtesy Anthony Brunelli Gallery, Binghamton, NY

Marcus Rothering

CONTINUUM Artist in Residence

Marcus Rothering is a fiber and ceramic artist, based in South Minneapolis. He completed a Bachelors in Arts at Metro State University in Saint Paul, in visual art, and is pursuing his MFA in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota. He currently serves as a Program Associate for Textile Center’s Youth Fiber Art Guild where he consults on youth and outreach programs, and as a para educator in Minneapolis where he engages every day with K-12 youth in the public schools.

Yarn makes me think of my mother and grandmother. I learned how to knit and crochet from my grandmother and my mother taught me how to sew and latch hook. Working with yarn makes me nostalgic for those times, but it also resurrects the battles I have endured surrounding my identity and societal body standards.

My tufted rugs reference my life as a black queer man, memories of growing up outdoors, and how I view my childhood living in Duluth, Minnesota. My rugs always tie back to Duluth. The piece made during my residency at Textile Center for this show, Striations #7, shows my interpretation of the shores of Lake Superior during the winter months and the shards of large ice slapping against the rocks. It also tells the tales of haunted stories of my youth surrounding the dead bodies frozen to the bottom of the great lake.

The piece, You’re Always There, is an accumulation of my personal demons wrapped up into one feeling. This touches on insecurities from my youth that have followed me into adulthood—ones that I tend to find “sick comfort” in.

Having been reintroduced to fiber art within the last couple years feels central to who I am and how I like to work. The authentic and familiar emotions I get working with yarn helps me feel comfortable creating these intimate self-portraits. My mindful and labor intensive process allows me to watch creation come whole, while spending cherished time with each piece. Being able to work at a faster speed with an electric tufting gun allows me to work on the larger scale I prefer, while working with the loud, sometimes vigorous tufting gun itself creates an empowering sensation.

You’re Always There
Cotton and acrylic yarn, canvas, felt
Tufting gun (rug hooking)


SHENEQUA received her Masters of Design in Fashion, Body, & Garment at School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the mentorship of Nick Cave and Liat Smestad. Solo exhibitions include Still Here, High Noon Gallery, NYC and Woven Narratives, at Haw Contemporary in Kansas City, MO in 2019. Recent group exhibitions include Performing Labor at Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco, CA, The Space We Grow Into at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL, and Mane N’ Tail at The Luminary in St. Louis, MO. Her work has been featured in publications such as American Craft Magazine, the Kansas City Star, and less than half. Notable lectures include the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and the Surface Design Association. She received a 2014 Windgate Fellowship from the Center for Craft and was the 2017-2018 recipient of the inaugural YoungArts Daniel Arsham Fellowship. SHENEQUA maintains her studio practice in Chicago.

As an Afro-Caribbean multidisciplinary textile artist, my sculptural wall tapestries combine the labor-intensive skills of traditional Ghanaian loom and floor loom weaving with Black and African hair styling. The subsequent deconstructing of each practice creates an open system of cultural and generational conversation on identity, diaspora, sisterhood, and sacred space, where the work transcends its formal and material properties. Braids and patterns merge into each other poetically and painterly, and structure gives way to the organic, like flesh in armor. Comprised of both the choreographed action of the loom and the performative space of a Black Hair Salon, the work leans into the ideas of feelings as corporeal and labor as a marker of time.

Much of my work references perseverance but also delves specifically into the stages of grief, which also perseveres. Grief is a constant condition of being a Black woman in America. We’re always justifying our bodies, what we wear, how we dress, how we carry ourselves, always needing to be conscious of how we’re styled. Everything has to be up to par with how our hair is done, and that too is consistently scrutinized.

I take inspiration from designs on my own crown, created by my Chicago-based stylist, Derricka Crumb. The use of synthetic braiding hair and high quality blends in conversation with a more ‘kinky’ puff hair speaks to the Black Hair Salon and my upbringing around what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ hair. The differing material operates as a push and pull of positive and negative space, where I allow the material to dictate its own form in certain places, and tightly render the weaving in others.

Through these discussions of grief, particularly grief experienced in isolation, my work taps into survival and proliferation. Through material, I address a spectrum of tradition rooted in technique into a love letter to Black women, referring back to the machines and bodies that the work is built upon.

Long Swoop Black
Synthetic hair, foam, cotton, Hitarget (GH) fabric, polyester, velvet, Fosshape
Hand construction
Artwork courtesy High Noon Gallery, New York, NY

Motherland Drip
Synthetic and Kankelon hair, cotton, silk, polyester, wooden beads
Hand construction
Artwork courtesy High Noon Gallery, New York, NY

Cowrie Me Black
Kankelon hair, cotton, cowrie shells, rubber bands, hair accessories
Hand construction
Artwork courtesy High Noon Gallery, New York, NY

Wooden Black and Gold Beads
Synthetic and Kankelon hair, cotton, polyester, wooden beads
Hand construction
Artwork courtesy High Noon Gallery, New York, NY

Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa

Jocelyn Suzuka Figueroa is a Minneapolis-based hapa artist with a focus on fiber and painting. She was born in Kyoto, Japan. In 2015, she received her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, and received her MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2021. Her work has been exhibited at the Rochester Art Center, the Suitcase Gallery in Minneapolis, Banfil-Locke in Fridley, the Red Wing Art Center, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In 2021, she participated in the Wisher Residency, Park Rapids, MN.

My work examines the role of inherited legacies and family traditions within histories altered by immigration, loss, and war. My paintings derive from my greatgrandfather’s archive of photographs, taken when he was a soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army. These are turned into y?rei–ghosts–floating bodies on the periphery of life. These subjects are deprived of the comfort of existing within space, longing for a home within the reserved solitude of undefined worlds.

Simultaneously, I create hand sewn stuffed dolls, using the nami nui (wave stitch). Nami nui was taught to me by my mother, who learned from my grandmother, who was taught by her mother, and on it went–a stitch passed from the hands of mothers to daughters, connecting generations of hands that will never touch.

Duty to preserve these photographic and craft legacies stems from my belief that I have a responsibility to raise up the stories of those who came before her and preserve their memories for those who will come after.

The dolls in Fantasy of Family were sewn entirely by my hand, using no machines. Their details are hand embroidered and felt appliqué. The patterns used here are all of my own design. The felt pieces and all the minky fur was dyed by hand from white. These two dolls are meant to represent the people in the image behind them: my great-grandparents, Kikue and Satoru. I painted the image using sumi ink on a canvas panel coated in gold leaf. A photo of my great-grandparents was used as a reference.

These dolls were made for a very specific reason. They will be sent to Japan to my grandmother, Nobuko, the daughter of Kikue and Satoru. Nobuko has dementia. The family she remembers most vividly are her long-gone parents. They appear in the painting as they were when she was a young girl. This is the family that her mind returns to. Caring for my grandmother is a burden on those around her. As a result, her days are primarily spent alone in a dark room with the curtains drawn, watching television. It is my hope that these dolls give her some measure of comfort.

Kiku and Suzu
Wool, silk, polyester
Nami nui (wave stitch) hand sewing, hand embroidery
$80 each

Kikue and Suzuka
Oil paint, parachute cloth, silk
Painting, hand sewing
$600 each

The Fantasy of Family: Kikue and Satoru at Shinsaibashi-suji (back)
Sumi ink, gold leaf, canvas board
Gold leafing, painting

The Fantasy of Family: Great-Grandmother Kikue and Great-Grandfather Satoru (front)
Polyester and acrylic fibers, repurposed vintage kimono silk, lavender scented poly-pellets, felted wool, brass rods, latex spray paint
Nami nui (wave stitch) hand sewing, hand embroidery, felt appliqué, bending, soldering, painting

Polyester and cotton fibers, aluminum bell
Hand sewing, hand embroidery

Nicole Thomas

Nicole Thomas (she/they) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work centers Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States, mixed race and LGBTQIA+ narratives, and mental health effects of generational trauma. Artwork coming from her studio balances the act of play and memory processing to provide grounding spaces for marginalized, underserved communities through various sensory experiences.

They hold a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). During their thesis year at MCAD, they were the Assistant Director at City Wide Artists, where she curated and produced exhibitions featuring artists who referenced contemporary sociopolitical issues. They also work closely with Emerging Curators Institute, advocating for accessibility to the curatorial field and MidWest Mixed, supporting programs surrounding mixed race and multiracial identities. Her critical writing and reviews have been published by INREVIEW and MPLSART. More recently, she received a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and an Arts Impact for Individuals grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Their work has been exhibited in Minnesota at Fresh Eye Gallery, Rosalux Gallery, Regis Center for Art at the University of Minnesota, Public Functionary, and The Soap Factory.

The Support Network series started as a way to process the trauma and memories I experienced alongside my community during the 2020 uprisings in Minnesota. I contextualized the duality in materials used to create borders or barriers. I noticed that both the community and government were using similar materials for different reasons. One to withhold space, and the other to enforce security. The monochromatic color scheme draws attention to the texture of the materials. This allows me to redefine the hardness of the chains, ropes, and metal with the softness of yarn, ribbon, and fabric.

I relate woven tapestry to how the community came together to support one another. The act of weaving involves stacking and pressing materials tightly together. When the weaving is released from a loom, each element creates a collective network of support. Whether a person gets lost in the tactile experience or connects their own memory to the piece, the installation of Support Network is a way to create space for meditation and reflection.

Support Network 01, 02, and 03
Cotton, wool, rope, ribbon, clay, wood, plastic and metal chains, hardware

Ivonne Yáñez

CONTINUUM Program Coordinator

Ivonne Yáñez is an interdisciplinary artist and fashion designer from México City. Currently she is studying the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where she is a graduate assistant in the Arts Entrepreneurship program and the class, Furniture: Textile and Surface. Her work has been exhibited at Fresh Eye Gallery, Gallery 148, and Gamut Gallery, all in Minneapolis, MN. From 2018 – 20, her work was focused in fashion media and retail design in Mexico City. She has a bachelor degree in fashion design from both the Universidad del Valle de México, México City, and from the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, in Milan.

Her work is dedicated to creating immersive installations that touch on the realms of family, memory, culture, and community. Ivonne was Program Coordinator for CONTINUUM, and we thank her for her invaluable assistance, particularly with assisting artist workshops and residencies, and organizing and moderating the panel discussions in June and July, 2022.

Family Archives from Mexico
Oil cloth, felt, cotton, yarn, thread, wood
Fabric marbling, mixed media construction