The current exhibit in Bethel College’s Regier Art Gallery doesn’t take up much space, but in some ways it encompasses the world.
The collection of printed fabric scrolls, painted aprons and tiles is called “Exhibition in a Suitcase,” because that is literally how it arrived from artist Anne Labovitz, who lives in St. Paul, Minn.
It’s an “excerpt” from Labovitz’s larger exhibit “122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders.”
The large scrolls that hang from the gallery ceiling and are draped on the floor emerged from conversations Labovitz had – sometimes face-to-face, sometimes via Skype® – with people from the five sister cities of Duluth, Minn., her hometown: Petrozavodsk, Russia; Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan; Växjö, Sweden; Thunder Bay, Ontario; and Ohara Isumi-City, Japan.
“Exhibition in a Suitcase” will be in the gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center through March 1, with the artist reception Feb. 28, 6-8 p.m. at the gallery.
Regier Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission charge.
Labovitz will speak about the process of creating “122 Conversations” in a Bethel convocation March 1, the final day of the exhibit, at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center.
In her artist statement, Labovitz explains, “In 2012, I was inspired by the Sister City International mission: ‘To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual at a time.
“These ideas resonated with me, as my practice for the past 30 years has been about the human spirit, its emotional resonance and the way it manifests in relationships.”
“122 Conversations” is, in Labovitz’s words, “a creative series that encompassed an artist-led research project, a six-venue exhibition tour, more than a dozen social practice interventions, 20+ workshops and numerous lectures convened over six years, four continents and six countries.
“The 60 interviews conducted and recorded are the core of this project and formed the source material. ‘122 Conversations’ reflects the use of the information age to create meaningful human connection in combination with the handwritten mark to shorten distances both literally and figuratively.
“This project centers around connection and seeing each other, and as part of that, I created the works entitled ‘United Under the Night Sky,’ seeking a common ground to unite us.
“We have different religions, languages, geography, values, yet humanity binds us. Overwhelmingly, throughout my 60 interviews, people across six countries hoped for a better world for their children; they hoped their children finished their studies; and there was a unifying hope for peace.
“We are all vulnerable. We all have compassion. And people want their stories to be shared and understood.”
Labovitz is a graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul with a B.A. in art and psychology, and has her MFA from Plymouth University’s Transart Institute.
Her practice includes painting, drawing and printmaking, as well as experimental film and sound.
Between 2015-18, “122 Conversations” traveled to venues in Duluth’s five sister cities, and came to Bethel after an exhibition at Duluth’s Tweed Museum of Art.
Labovitz’s paintings are part of permanent collections at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, the Tweed Museum of Art, the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla, Calif., the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minn., and the International Gallery of Portrait in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
She has co-authored several books on portraiture with Australian artist Carole Best, and provided illustrations for the children’s book Honoral & Zarina. In 2013, she was named Duluth’s Artist of the Year.
Labovitz is also active in the art community in the Twin Cities metro area – as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Walker Center in Minneapolis, the Advisory Board of the Artist Book Foundation in New York and (past) the Colleagues Advisory Board at the Weisman Museum.
Her passion for art education in schools and the community keeps her teaching in both public and private schools and offering workshops to artists of all ages around the Twin Cities.