Reaching Backward, Reaching Forward: Tracing Histories

Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts presents Reaching Backward, Reaching Forward: Tracing HistoriesNew work by Kit Leffler and Monica Sheets

Fridley, MN, December 13, 2016 – Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts (BLCA) presents Reaching Backward, Reaching Forward: Tracing Histories an exhibition featuring the work of BLCA Artists in Residence, Kit Leffler and Monica Sheets. The exhibit, on view from January 7 to February 4, presents works that capture characters and stories from both past and present as they build a narrative around our local community and its relation to a broader story of place and time.

Reaching Backward, Reaching Forward: Tracing Histories uses images to document current and historical figures of the road stories in Kit Leffler’s exploration of the Red River Ox Cart Trail of the past and her own retracing of the trail. Monica Sheets presents local interviews with Fridley community members using architectural models of rambler style homes as a vehicle for telling current stories of the hopes and fears of citizens as they relate to Fridley and American suburban life.


About the Artist in Residence Projects:

Kit Leffler- This project explores the road stories of the Red River Ox Cart Trail, a network of paths joining the Red River (or Selkirk) Colony and its north-flowing watershed with the south-flowing Mississippi River used between 1820- 1870. The paths were a thoroughfare for early fur trade, and ran from current day Winnipeg, Canada to Saint Paul, MN. Rather than create a strict historical resurrection of the trail, the project is intended as a learning experience: an attempt to build a historical and artistic narrative that balances on the indistinct paths of time that connect past and present. These new portraitures are a response to a series of four walking/drawing tours Kit led last summer (2016) which extended from Lowertown Landing (St. Paul) to Banfill Tavern (Fridley). The following local characters are highlighted in the exhibition: Earl Bakken, John Banfill, George Bonga, Pierre Bottineau, Little Crow, Stephen Desnoyer, William Folwell, Del Hampton, Norman Kittson, Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Perrant, Joe Siwek, and Louella Mae Snider.

Monica Sheets– This installation, the stories, hopes and fears of Fridley residents present not just a snapshot of their own town, but a reflection of US suburbs in a time of demographic changes. Sheets began her residency at Banfill-Locke by asking people what Fridley has and what Fridley needs – two short questions to find out what was on people’s minds. She followed this up with one-on-one conversations to hear about people’s personal experiences in Fridley. These conversations, including 16 recorded interviews, form the basis for the installation. When a doorbell is pressed, architectural models of the “rambler”-style houses found in Fridley play excerpts from the interviews. These excerpts offer perspectives that complement and contradict one another, revealing concerns about aging in place, anxiety about demographic shifts, the enduring appeal of the suburban lifestyle and longing for greater sense of community.


About the Artists:

Kit Leffler is a Minneapolis based visual artist who creates representational pen and watercolor drawings that often feature elements of collage. Her practice considers spatial place, time, and subjectivity through portraiture, mapping, and urban roaming. She received her MFA in Printmaking from Edinburgh College of Art (2011) and has completed residencies at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, SPARE (Chicago), and the Frans Masereel Centre (Kasterlee, Belgium). Exhibiting both nationally and internationally, her work was most recently shown at the Mid-America Print Conference in Louisville, KY. In addition to the above, Kit is also the founder of the Minneapolis Plein Air Coterie, an occasional puppeteer/performer, and the technology team lead for Prospect Park Community Gardens.


Monica Sheets creates platforms for communication as a means of civic engagement for herself and other participants. She was born in Toledo, Ohio and studied Photography at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her experiences growing up in the Rust Belt (the former industrial heart of the US) were pivotal to her decision to work directly with participants, coming from a desire to reach audiences who might not normally visit galleries and museums. She received an MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies from the Bauhaus-University Weimar in 2009. Her artwork has been recognized by the MCAD/Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists, the Minnesota State Arts Board, FORECAST Public Artworks and the Culture Foundation of the Free State of Saxony. In addition to her artistic work, she has worked in different capacities at a variety of non-profit art organizations, including as founder and director of Das Fundbuero e.V., a cultural organization dedicated to creating spaces in which former East German citizens can discuss their experiences of the German Democratic Republic and the aftermath of German unification in 1989.


Exhibition Events:

Opening Celebration

Sunday January 8 from 1 to 4 PM, FREE

Kick off the exhibition by meeting BLCA Artists in Residence Kit Leffler and Monica Sheets. Enjoy refreshments and experience the exhibition as you think of your own story and its relation to our historical narrative and community.


Artist Talk with Kit Leffler and Monica Sheets

Sunday January 22, 2 PM FREE

Join the Artists in Residence and special guests Andy Sturdevant, an artist and writer based in Minneapolis and local urban geographer and writer Bill Lindeke, Ph. D., for an engaging conversation about the artistic offerings and historical narratives of Reaching Backward, Reaching Forward: Tracing Histories.


Art Center Location and Hours: BLCA is located at 6666 East River Road in Fridley, MN. Art center hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM. There is no admission fee. Free parking is also available. For more information email info@banfill-locke.org or call 763-574-1850.


About Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts:  Since 1979, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts has been committed to being a wellspring for the north metro community by providing inspiration, enrichment, enjoyment, opportunities, and education through the visual and literary arts. Today, we are the go to place for the north metro’s creative needs. Through our public/private partnership with Anoka County Parks Department, we provide a thriving and active creative community in the historic Banfill Tavern and former Locke house, located in Fridley, Minnesota. To be inspired, please visit us at our art center or online at banfill-locke.org.