For many Twin Cities natives, visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is part of their upbringing. At least for me, it was. As a child, my favorite days were those where we would take a field trip to the MIA, or when I would beg my parents to bring me on the weekends. One aspect of it that leaves so many in awe is its wide variety of pieces in its collection. There are pieces I remember fondly from childhood: Dale Chihuly’s Sunburst chandelier that greets visitors as they walk in, for example. Yet so many of the rooms contain works that are ever-changing, allowing the galleries to remain fresh.
Arguably, the most important aspect of the MIA is that admission is free for everyone, eliminating the idea that art may only be accessible to the upper class. The museum does have special traveling exhibits. These are exhibits that require an entry fee but are often fascinating and worth seeing for art aficionados. Currently, the MIA is in a transitional period between special exhibits, but I stumbled upon an exhibit I have never seen before.
The Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) is an organization that works with the MIA to broadcast the work of Minnesotan artists. Since 1975, the museum has curated three shows per year to display the work of these artists. The current artist on display is Ernest Arthur Bryant III. According to Bryant’s website, he is currently studying at Yale University School of Art. Most of his work involves sculpture and he has had exhibitions all over the world in areas such as California, New York, Cuba, and China. His piece that is currently being displayed is a graphic novel titled “The Life and Times of the Time Traveler.” Bryant describes his work as an oversized graphic novel that explores “the changing psyche of a character through the exploration of various forms of the arts’ impact on said character.”
The gallery is set in a nearly deserted room. The ceilings are high and the pieces are spread out, leaving each work exposed to the viewer. Isolating the pieces allows the viewer to give them their undivided attention.
It was somewhat hard to distinguish between Bryant’s work because much of it was homogenous. Many of them were done in the mediums of pen and paper. The entire collection had the aura of work that may be considered simplistic; the large sheets of paper leave lots of open spaces in the drawings. He leaves imperfections that are not generally seen in professional galleries, but this contrasts with the intricate details of the historical pieces. It would also be difficult to talk about the pieces because most of them have are named “Untitled.” Whether this artist chose to intentionally leave his works untitled is unclear. Regardless, while the gallery may be small, the pieces are interesting and definitely worth a visit if you happen to be at the MIA.