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The collaborative, international project, 122 Conversations ended its journey to all five sister cities of Duluth with its sixth and final opening held in Duluth October 2018. The project encouraged cross cultural dialogue and served as a catalyst for positive social change, the radical political act of caring. The project, led by artist Anne Labovitz was based on the art of engagement — art derived from the process of interconnection and cross-cultural dialogue. Organized by the Tweed Museum of Art and in collaboration with Duluth Sister Cities, International and University of Minnesota Duluth, School of Fine Arts, the project celebrated the combined 122 years of relationship with Duluth’s five sister Cities: Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan, Växjö, Sweden, Petrozavodsk, Russia, Thunder Bay, Canada and Ohara-Isumi City, Japan.
After its first opening in 2015 in Thunder Bay, Canada, two of the subsequent six exhibitions ran concurrently in early 2017, the first in Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan. The entire exhibition was created on lightweight Tyvek® and packed in a single suitcase and hand carried by DSCI delegate Michelle Obed to Rania. The project opened on January 16 at the University of Raparin during a well attended event and continued through the end of March. ‘Choices’, an engagement piece to be included in all locations, contributes conversations from citizens of each city in the form of drawings or words on colorful tiles created by Labovitz. These tiles from all 5 cities traveled back to Duluth for the final culmination exhibition held at the Tweed Museum of Art. They joined new tiles contributed by citizens of Duluth and were on display throughout the exhibition which ended on January 6, 2019. In addition to Michelle Obed, DSCI delegates who traveled to Iraq include Gale Kerns, Jeri Kerns, Koresh Lakhan and Jill Lakhan.
Labovitz was on hand for the opening at the Växö Konsthall in Växjö, Sweden on March 4, 2017 as well as DSCI delegate Alison Aune, PHD Area Chair in Art Education. In the days following the Växjö opening, Labovitz facilitated multiple workshops every day. These workshops continued even after her departure facilitated by local art and education professionals. Children, students, adults and new immigrant families to Sweden all contributed to the engagement piece, ‘Choices’ in their unique ways. The exhibition concluded on April 3, 2017. In addition to Alison Aune, DSCI delegates who traveled to Sweden were Terese Tomanek, Gary Anderson, Gary Boelhower, John Schmidt, Chelly Townsend and Patti Maguire.
The Russian installation opened in Petrozavodsk, Russia on May 25 and continued through June 17, 2017 at Petrozavodsk City Exhibition Hall. The site specific pieces were again hand carried into the country by a DSCI representative, Devan Burnette. Dan Nolan, Assistant Professor Foreign Languages and Literature, at the University of MN was instrumental in identifying Devan and a wonderful liaison for the project. Labovitz was able to attend the opening through virtual means, addressing the crowd via Skype. Several art workshops were conducted with adults, youth and students with the help of the staff at the exhibition hall and local art teachers. Many more Choices tiles were added to the growing collection!
The final international venue concluded in Ohara Isumi-City in November 2017. Labovitz traveled to Japan with the DSCI delegation to attend the wonderful opening reception with the mayor and the Japanese Sister Cities delegates. The culminating archive exhibition opened September 25 and continued through January 6, 2019 at the Tweed Museum of Art. The October 25 opening was a large success and attended by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. 122 Conversations had its inaugural opening in 2015 in Thunder Bay at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
See press from all locations.
Anne Labovitz News Flash, November 2018