Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibit


Instinct Art Gallery Presents

Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibit

 Opening Saturday November 21, from 6:00 to 8:00pm, and runs through January 16, 2016.

Instinct Art Gallery
940 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN

Gallery hours, Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 to 5:00pm.

Featuring the art of Juliane Shibata, Chase Boston, Tina Blondell, Inna Valin, Christopher E. Harrison, Nooshin Hakim, Peter B. Nelson, David Aschenbrener, and Catherine L. Johnson.

Humanly Possible: The Empathy Exhibition. 

The word empathy comes from the Greek, Em (in) and Pathos (feeling).  To feel in union with someone.  It is not an acknowledgement, it is participation.

The title, Humanly Possible cuts both ways. Empathy is possible because we are human, but because we are human we can choose not to exercise it.  It is this human potential that we hope to encourage by showing artwork that inspires us to use our empathic abilities. Art has a way of opening the ‘doors of perception’ into the lives of its subjects and thereby adds to our lived experiences.  Internalizing art simply makes us more human.

A quick internet search brings up a number of studies that indicate that Empathy is on the decline in various populations (for example, US college students, US healthcare workers, and Australians), and perhaps across the human race.  Whether or not this decline is pandemic, we intuitively know that understanding, compassion, and empathy must be part of the antidote for things like our current state of polarized politics, spousal murder rates, cultural conflicts, stereotyping, etc.

Special Events:

November 21, 6:00 to 8:00pm: Opening Reception

December 5, 3:00 to 6:00pm: Lullaby Songs for Syrian Refugees.  Nooshin Hakim, Pedram Baldari and Andreea-Sorina Koch will be recording anyone that wants to sing a song of comfort, compiling these songs and sending them to groups of Syrian Refugees.  Singers wanted, audiences welcome!

January 7, 6:00 to 8:00pm: Event for Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that helps people connect to and explore the natural world, including people with ability or financial barriers. This event will feature Catherine L. Johnson’s pine tree series with a % of sales donated to Wilderness Inquiry.


Juliane Shibata is a ceramic installation artist exploring human relationships with the natural world.  This exhibition includes a wall sculpture that provides a simple visual for empathy, and an abstracted installation of small, pinched porcelain forms titled 1001 Farewells.

Catherine L. Johnson is a visual artist whose art touches the archetypes of the human psyche through imagery and poetic text.  Her work simultaneously honors the sacredness of being human and the natural world. She considers Empathy to be a sacred trust, the I/Thou Relationship.

Tina Blondell: Tina Blondell is classical figurative painter with a current focus on the human experience, expanding its range to explore the heroic and passionate figures who inhabit the margins of American culture.  Her paintings are a visual dialogue about what it means to be “American,” and the protean nature of that identity.

Inna Valin Is a street photographer of the most real sort.  She’s not ‘shooting from a distance’ but rather engages with the people and the street itself in order to photograph people being people. Her chosen subjects are often people on the margin. Her Photographs bring these people out in the light so we can’t pass them by so easily. Their story becomes more possible to understand.

Chase Boston Is an environmental artist of the earthworks tradition, but presented with contemporary themes and tools. He immerses himself in people-less nature areas —where the leeches bite and forest fires burn to reckon with nature, and reflect on his place that seems outside of society.  His creations are outdoor sculptures/installations made of the sticky, itchy, gooey bits of nature that stand as impermanent totems to a world he knows he can’t make sense of (while many people think they can).

Christopher E. Harrison is a painter and mixed media artist that portrays the grittier side of life in north Minneapolis. His work in this exhibit is paintings of people arguing with or misunderstanding one another, and show the effects of the negative emotion within these interactions.

Nooshin Hakim is a multimedia artist who presents us with episodes and artifacts of human conflict in the Middle East, to which she then adds a humane and empathetic, artistic response.  For this exhibit she has grown decorative crystals on top of actual fragments (clothing, stones) leftover from a riot in Iran, and will host an event to gather and record lullaby songs which will be sent to Syrian refugees.

Peter B. Nelson is a video and performance artist who transfers the experience of one or more people into an experience acted out by others. Nelson says, ‘I want to better understand the people around me. I want to climb into their skin and walk around in it. I want to know how other people perceive themselves and how that relates to the way I perceive them.’  This is empathy in action.

David Aschenbrener is a bronze sculptor who works back and forth between organically created abstract forms (melting, bubbling, cracking, etc.) and recognizable bits of nature such as sticks, feathers, flowers, which he shapes into figures or floral sculpture.  For this exhibit he’s sculpted his version of heartbreak in a fiery red piece titled, ‘She Never Loved Me’.