All posts by friendsoffice

President’s Letter

A message from the Friend’s President Maria Eggemeyer

Dear Friends,

I’m writing this first letter of the 2020/2021 Friends year, hoping that you are well and enjoying the warm days of summer.

Despite these strange times, the Friends are here for you, bringing all your favorites including our monthly Fiterman lectures,  book club, and tours—on Zoom instead of in-person. Mia is also open again (tickets required) Thursday—Sunday. Museum visits are safe and well-organized.  Art and Friends endure.

On that note, I have an important request. Please take the time to renew your Friends membership today.  Contact Lizzi in the Friend’s office, to check the status of your membership.  It’s more important than ever to keep our organization strong. Thank you.

If you’ve been spending more time enjoying our lush natural surroundings, I encourage you to take a look at internationally known photographer Lynn Geesaman’s work. With a degree in mathematics and physics, Lynn worked as an experimental physicist at a radiation laboratory, and then in her thirties, took up photography. Lynn took bewitching shots of gardens and landscapes with her Hasselblad camera and worked magic in her darkroom. Lynn was a good friend of mine for many years and passed away this March. Her work is collected by museums everywhere, and by aficionados such as Sir Elton John. I highly recommend that you look at her work in Mia’s collections and on the web for her later venture into color.

As we begin our ninety-ninth year, the Friends of the Institute faces challenges and hopes for the future. The love of art has always been at the heart of what we do, and our members are ready to take a peerless path forward in our long-standing and loyal support of Mia. Thank you for being a Friend!

Maria Eggemeyer


Meet New Friends Board Members

Welcome new Board members!

The Friends Board of Directors includes Friends officers, committee chairs, and special appointees. Members are appointed by a nominating committee each year and voted upon at the Friends annual meeting in May.




Sheila-Marie Untiedt,
Docent Executive Committee Chair. Docent class of 2009. Right out of college I lived across from Mia in the Fair Oaks Apartments and freely roamed the galleries. I’m a Mediator, Chair of Stillwater Township Town Board and perform in local community theater.







Julie Scroggins, Plants and Flowers. I’m a regular volunteer at Mia with Art in Bloom, retired elementary education educator, and excited to work on finding creative ways to support Mia and its outreach this year.






Kathryn Schwyzer,
Outreach. Long time New Yorker living in Minneapolis. Lover of art and dance. Mia docent class of 2015






Kristen McDougall, Art and Architecture. I’m a freelance graphic designer with a strong interest in architecture and renovation. I’ve been a docent for three years and look forward to being involved with the Friends on a deeper level as a board member.







Tippy Madden, Newsletter. I’m a journalist who has worked in Russia, Switzerland, Chicago and Minneapolis.  I am an Art Adventure Guide, Friends member, and a lover of all things art and nature.






Renee Kessler,
Treasurer. I retired in 2018 after a 37-year career in accounting and finance, primarily in the financial sector. I’m a long-time visitor to Mia and look forward to becoming more involved and meeting new “Friends”.







Loreen Fripp, Fundraising. I’m an Art Adventure guide (Class of 2012) and currently act as the Art Adventure Council Chair. I look forward to working with the board as well as our amazing membership!






Julie Hutchison Bolton, Friends Only Events. I’m a professional actor and a Professor Emerita of Theatre Arts and have also recorded books for Radio Talking Books. I was a docent for 17 years and have been a Friend since 2001 and a member of Mia since 1978.  I enjoyed setting up Friends Only tours last year and hope we can create something exciting this year.






Jenn Hovland CPFD, Art in Bloom. I’m an Event Florist and owner of Fleur de Louise Flower Studio, an instructor at Koehler & Dramm Institute of Floristry and MN Horticultural Society, and was a Committee Chair for Art in Bloom in 2018, 2019 and 2020.






Susan Arndt, Lectures. I’m a curious art lover and a life-long museum visitor. I’ve been a member of Mia and Friends for many years and became a docent in 2015. 

Announcing the 2020-2021 Friends Lecture season

Join us for Friends Lectures! 

It’s been a tough year, but we’re happy to announce that the Friends Lectures are back for the fall! Even though we won’t be able to gather in Pillsbury Auditorium, you’ll still be able to “attend” and hear from a variety of interesting speakers via a Zoom-type platform.

It’s the same format you’re used to—just virtual. This means you can tune in from wherever you are whether that’s in St. Cloud, Rochester, up at the cabin, or wintering in Florida. During this strange time, we look for silver linings!

Friends 2020 – 2021 Lecture Series: 

September 10, 2020
Ellen Winner (Boston College) “The Psychology of Art”

October 8, 2020
Jack Becker (formerly of Forecast Public Art) “The Challenge of Making Public Art Public”

November 12, 2020
Father Columba Stewart (Hill Monastic Museum and Library) Described as “The monk who saves manuscripts from ISIS”

December 10, 2020
Sam Olbekson (Cuningham Group) The architect working to create a Native American Corridor on Franklin Ave

January 14, 2021
Dr. Katherine Luber (Executive Director, Mia) Meet Dr. Luber and learn about the artist she did her dissertation on, Albrecht Durer

February 11, 2021
Marcela Guerrero (Whitney Museum) “The Impact of LatinX Art”

 March, April and May, 2021 TBD

September Friends Lecture Features Psychologist Dr. Ellen Winner

September 10, 2020 11:00 am


Virtual Event

Ticket Price: Free

Find out why art motivates and moves

We all know that art captivates and moves us, but it takes a psychologist to try and pin down why that is, and attempt to tease out the ways in which we all benefit from exposure to art. It takes a psychologist to bring the rigors of science to bear on easily made assumptions that sometimes prove not to be as obvious as they seem. For example, it was Dr. Winner who debunked the claim that exposure to arts education raises students’ scores on standardized tests, a finding that spurred her ongoing investigation into arts education and the actual benefits students derive from studying art.

Dr. Winner is the Department Head and Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. She directs the Arts and Mind Lab which focuses on cognition in the arts and is the author of more than 200 articles and four books.

In her most recent book, “How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration,” Dr. Winner looks at art through psychological and philosophical lenses and discusses answers to timeless questions such as:

Why do we need Art? After all, no one has ever discovered a culture without one or more forms of Art. 

Is Art inherent to our species? Is it, like language, something we are just programmed to do, part of being human? 

Is it true that people have stronger emotional reactions to music than to the visual arts?

Is it true that people actually can tell the difference between abstract art created by artists and that created by “my five-year-old” and, if so, how? 

And why is it that we are drawn to art that depicts tragic or horrifying events? Is it possible that interacting with art helps us develop empathy?

For the answers to these and other questions, come hear Dr. Winner speak. To register for this virtual event click here, or call 612.870.3000. A Zoom link will be emailed to registrants prior to the event. Part of the Friends Lecture Series.  

Get Tickets

First Friends Only Zoom tour

September 23, 2020 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Join Fellow Friends for a Virtual Tour!

Debbi Hegstrom, Senior Educator at the Mia, will present a Zoom tour, “The Art of Building: An Architectural History of Mia”. 

In this virtual tour, we’ll examine how the original neoclassical building, a central landmark in the 1917 City Plan of Minneapolis, became integrated with two much-later modern additions—three buildings from three unique eras that form today’s Mia.  We’ll also discover the architectural elements that were woven through the spaces to create a harmonious relationship among these architectural gems.

Debbi Hegstrom is Senior Educator at Mia. She oversees the docent program—teaching docents about the museum’s collections as well as evaluating and coaching them. Debra is also involved in exploring new strategies that incorporate critical thinking and cultural fluency.  She received an MA and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Minnesota. 

Reserve your spot on this Friends only tour by contacting the Friend’s Office at Space is limited! 

This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

Join The Friends

2020/2021 Friends Book Club and September’s book!

September 18, 2020 10:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Join Friends via Zoom for a discussion of The Island of Sea Women by Linda See

Much of the news in recent months has dealt with change, and the same goes for the Friends Book Club in the coming year.

Book Club leadership recently transferred from Elizabeth Winga to Carol Poulson.  Carol previously served on the Board of Friends for Hospitality and other programs, so Book Club will be a new venture for her.  WELCOME, Carol!

Another change is that our September gathering, and likely subsequent Book Club sessions this year, will be held via Zoom.  If you’ve never attended a Zoom bookclub, you might be surprised how connected they can make you feel.

Friends Book Club

The book for September is what O, The Oprah Magazine calls,  “A mesmerizing new historical novel” The Island of Sea Women by Linda See. 

Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows two girls from very different backgrounds as they begin working with their village’s all-female diving collective. 


Additional Book Club dates and titles:

Friday, October 16, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir by Michele Norris, which focuses on Norris’ experiences as a black woman growing up in south Minneapolis.

Friday, November 20, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the Golden Age in New York City, 

We’ll continue to offer a post-discussion tour as part of the monthly Book Club.  Since on-site gallery tours at Mia aren’t currently an option, we’re figuring out an alternative.

Important: Please send an email to to register for September’s meeting  (or indicate interest in future meetings) and receive a Zoom invitation and details about the tour, 

We look forward to staying connected, seeing you, and discussing books via Zoom! 

This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

Join The Friends

Invite a Friend to Attend: (Virtual) Friends 101

Mark your calendars for October 20 as the Friends kick off our membership year with a (virtual) program highlighting the 2020-21 Friends year with special guest curator Andreas Marks.

Dawn over Lake Kawaguchi, 1981-1986
Hagiwara Hideo
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper

Attend with a friend! The Friends membership drive has begun and to kick off the year, we ask current Friends to invite future Friends to learn about and join Mia’s oldest volunteer organization at Friends 101 on Tuesday, October 20 at 10AM via Zoom!

Our potential Friends members will be welcomed by President Maria Eggemeyer and Membership co-chairs. There will be an overview of Art in Bloom 2021, and the upcoming Centennial celebration will be shared by Barbara Proeschel and Pam Friedland.

Finally, Dr. Andreas Marks, the Mary Griggs Burke Curator and Head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department and Director of the Clark Center for Japanese Art, will give a 20 minute presentation on Abstract Prints by Hagiwara Hideo. Hideo, whose works are the feature of a current exhibition in Galleries 226, 227 and 237, was originally a painter trained in oil, but after an illness, turned to printmaking. 

The Mia retrospective showcases Hideo’s enormous versatility just as Friends 101 showcases the incredible versatility of talent, resources and fun that the Friends bring to Mia. 

As we approach the Centennial Year of the Friends, renewing and revitalizing the membership base, welcoming new faces, perspectives and talents to this group and growing the membership base is an important goal. Be a Friend and invite a friend!

Those interested in participating can email to sign up. Once registered, they’ll receive a Zoom invite via email to participate in the event.


Annual Meeting/Report for the Friends of the Institute

May 14, 2020 11:00 am


Google Hangouts

Join the Annual Meeting on May 14 via THIS LINK (or by calling  402-821-1185 and entering the PIN: 274 712 587#).

To optimize the meeting experience please:
– Mute your audio and turn off your video if not speaking.
– If dialing in from a land line, press *6 to mute your phone

If you have any questions, please email

Read the State of the State of the Friends!

Group portrait of the 2019-2020 Friends of the Institute Board. September 2019. Target Park and Walkway, Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Friends organization is making history in 2020 by holding the first virtual annual meeting! The current state makes the temporary change a necessity. 

NOTE: Please read the following agenda and committee reports before attending our virtual meeting at 11AM on Thursday, May 14. Thank you for your attendance and your vote.

The Friends of the Institute is an organization of members dedicated to supporting, enhancing, and sustaining the collection, programs, and influence of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


  1. Confirm that there is a quorum – at least five percent of Friends membership.
  2. Vote to suspend the reading of the minutes from the 2019 Annual Meeting. The minutes from past annual meetings are available in the Friends office or on the web page.
  3. Report the financial state of Friends.
  4. Answer questions about annual report.
  5. Present the slate of 2020/2021 Friends officers.
  6. Ask for nominations from the floor.
  7. Approve the 2020/2021 Friends officers.
  8. Adjourn the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Institute.



I would like to begin by thanking our members for their loyal support of the Friends organization, Mia, and the arts. Art is a vital part of life in good times and challenging ones. Its wonder energizes and inspires us. Friends volunteers time and talent to make the wonder of art more accessible during 2019/2020. Although cut short, the year was a productive one, thanks to dedicated volunteers, who gave their creativity, time, and talents, and also to the capable Mia staff, who gave their solid support to every project. 


Molly VanMetre reports:

As of February 2020, our resources totaled $435,947.47. This number includes $69,044.80 specifically earmarked for the purchase of the Delacroix work which was transferred to Mia in April. Our position compares favorably to total resources of $382,304.39 at the same time last year, including $59,675 in donations specifically designated for the purchase of the Delacroix. This year’s figure includes $31,087.11 in similarly designated funds.

A highlight of this year through February is that we’ve funded 43 buses for 26 different schools to bring young students to Mia, thanks to both direct donations to our Buy a Bus Fund and the income we are allocated each year from the Transportation Endowment Fund. 

The cancellation of Art in Bloom 2020, and the blizzard-impacted results from Art in Bloom 2019, are having a significant impact on our financial condition. As such, we are carefully examining all of our activities while attempting to come up with a budget for fiscal 2021 that reflects ongoing support for the mission of the Friends, and in turn that of Mia itself. 

We appreciate all that you do as Friends members to support our mission, both as monetary contributors and as volunteers. Your continuing support and commitment will help us to achieve our mission to serve Mia’s goals and objectives.


Lucy Hicks reports:

The wonderful May 2020 Friends trip to Portugal was canceled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.


Therese Blaine and Maria Reamer report:

Art in Bloom 2020, scheduled to run from April 23 – 27, was canceled due to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Beginning in early October a team of 56 team Art in Bloom Committee members began planning activities and events for what would have been a spectacular 37th Annual Art in Bloom. Under the leadership of AIB Co-chairs Maria Reamer and Therese Blaine, twenty-nine separate Committees invested time, creativity, and talent to eventually host five days of packed scheduling, guaranteed to engage and delight all visitors including patrons, flower lovers, and children. 

This year the mission of the Co-Chairs was to create an enriching experience for AIB volunteers and visitors while raising funds to ensure that busloads of school children could come to Mia. With this goal in mind, the Co-chairs set out to support their volunteers with clear communication channels, ample Friends office staff and Mia professional staff assistance, and team building events including a November House party and a mid-winter pizza party. 

The Co-Chairs also worked cooperatively with Mia’s Advancement team to secure corporate sponsorships, and with Friends advisors to cultivate and secure individual sponsorships. This effort was very successful, with new Corporate sponsor Target, legacy sponsor Bachman’s, and Special event sponsors, Galleria, Hirschfield’s, Artful Living, StarTribune, and MetroTransit, to name a few. 

In an attempt to raise awareness and money from the thousands of Art in Bloom guests, the AIB team developed a “Wheels on the Bus Campaign”, enabling all AIB attendees to easily contribute cash to the important Friend’s mission of bringing students to the museum via bus transportation grants. Especially of note this year, was the smooth transition of Pedestal Floral Artist registration to an online system that included artwork selection numbers assigned by lottery; the decision to return the Preview Party to a formal reception and sit down dinner; the excitement created by the selection of a Native American Signature Artwork: “Floral Legacy” by a living Dakota Artist, Holly Young; and the AIB Co-Chairs productive and respectful working relationships with all areas of Mia’s professional staff forged by monthly and sometimes weekly “Strategy Team” meetings that began in early July 2019.


Barb Champ reports:

Committee members continue to work on a fabulous one-hundred-year birthday celebration for Friends of the Institute. 


Tammy Meyer kept the Friends board and e-guides informed of one another’s activities.


Elizabeth Winga reports:

The Book Club for Friends members met monthly on Friday mornings in Mia’s Research Library.  Docents and Friends members served as moderators.  Following each discussion, custom-designed gallery tours on the book’s theme were led by Mia’s docents.  Unfortunately, the year was cut short in March due to the Covid-19 virus restrictions.

Michele Byfield-Angell and Julie Bolton report:

A variety of Friends-Only programs were held each month including curator tours, tours arranged by Julie of the Midwest Conservation Center, and the framing department at Mia. Mia’s Senior Educator Debra Hegstrom was scheduled on March 17 to show participants how art through more than one lens can offer us greater insight or a different entry point into the work. It was postponed until next year.


Beverly Hauschild-Baron reports:

On November 7, 2019, more than 90 guests enjoyed an evening of information and conviviality at a fundraiser celebrating  Mia’s relationship with the Bell Museum of Natural History. Docent-led tours were a hit, as were the three speakers: Ford Bell who spoke of his philanthropist grandfather, James Ford Bell, Bell Museum Executive Director Denise Young, and architect David Dimond. The James Ford Bell Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture and head of the Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture Ghenete Zelleke also spoke in the galleries.


Jeanne Scheiderer reports:

The committee is gathering material for Friends hundredth year celebration in 2022.


Carol Poulson and Kris King arranged great luncheon gatherings after the September, December, and February Friends lectures. Their menu selections from Deco catering were delicious and the table settings and centerpieces added to the fun gatherings.  


Helen Leslie and Barbara Proeschel report:

The 2019/2020 Friends Lecture Series brought us a broad array of speakers, starting off with a talk on Hmong textiles and ending two months early with one on Women and Impressionism. Most of our lectures, which are free and open to the public, were ticketed close to Pillsbury Auditorium capacity this year. Due to the pandemic crisis and closure of the museum, we were obliged to cancel our lectures in April and May. We are grateful to the Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Fund, which continues to generously fund two of our speakers each year.

Look at the April Friends newsletter for the Vimeo link to Women and Impressionism, a fabulous March 12 Friends lecture by former Mia curator Lisa Michaux.


Teresa Luterbach and Melanie Nelson report:

The number count as of April 1, 2020, is 679 Friends members.

In October, Friends 101 was held for Friends to have a conversation about the history, activities, and opportunities available through the Friends of the Institute. The event was followed by a tour of the newly refreshed Americas galleries led by Associate Curator of Native American Art, Jill Ahlberg Yohe.

Renewal reminders were sent to members during the year. And many thanks go to those volunteering to make calls to Friends members, recognizing them for their support and loyalty. 


Sharon Secor and Laurie Fontaine-Junker report:

Newsletter turned out more than 12 Friends newsletters in 2019/2020 that were electronically sent to all members and are available to the public on the website. The newsletter keeps us informed and entertained.


Barb Edin reports:

Outreach worked with the Art Adventure program to bring volunteers to Whittier School to make presentations of objects that will be followed up by tours at Mia. This year’s program had to be canceled because of Coronavirus. 


Shelly McGinnis and Lisa Berg report:

The holiday tree in the rotunda was so attractive. Participants of all ages on docent tours that commented on how beautiful it was.


Pat Gale reports:

Pat enjoyed her relationship with Rochester president Sharon Parham and attended several Rochester Friends functions. Rochester continues to contribute to treats and coffee before the Monthly Friends lectures and we thank their generosity.


Boyd Ratchye reports:

Boyd has enjoyed acting as the liaison to St. Cloud Friends and attended several of their functions. He enjoyed working with St. Cloud president Libbie Brunsvold.


Laura Miller and JeanMarie Burtness report:

Transportation co-chairs worked with Paula Warn and Jennifer Curry in the tour office to obtain the figures. 

Thirty-three schools took tours before the academic year was cut short. Most school tours take place in spring.

A total of fifty-seven school busses were funded by mid-March

Reimbursement checks amounting to $11,400 *were sent to schools through March 13, 2020.

*Please note the different totals from the treasurer’s report, ending with February numbers.


Sue Stillman reports:

A loyal corps of volunteers sent out printed newsletter to members without e-mail. Volunteers ushered guests in Pillsbury for the monthly Friends lectures and were ready to assist with any other Friends needs. Sue was always there to coordinate the effort.


Kathryn Koessel, Julie Holland, Nikki Lewis, Tracy Schaefer, and Katie Searl

Friends board advisors contributed their time and expertise to provide guidance when needed.


Katie Remole reports:

Nominating worked hard this year to put together a superb slate of nominees for the 2020/2021 Friends Board.

The slate of Friends board officers:

Friends president – Maria Eggemeyer

First vice president/president-elect – Julie Holland

Research and Planning (second vice president) – Liz Short

Secretary – Carol Stoddart

Treasurer – Renee Kessler

Development Relations chair – Maria Reamer

I am profoundly thankful to the 2019/2020 Friends board. I am also appreciative of having had the privilege of working with a talented Executive committee, including First vice president Robin Keyworth, Research and Planning and second vice president Liz Short, Secretary Chris Vickery, Treasurer Molly Van Metre, and Development Relations chair Carol Stoddart.

Friends thank Mia’s leadership team composed of Director Katie Luber, Board of Trustees Chair David Wilson, Deputy Director Pat Grazzini, and Chief Advancement Officer Julianne Amendola who are expertly and thoughtfully guiding the Mia community in uncertain times. Friends also thank Julianne Amendola for her role as Friends liaison to Mia.

Mia staff plays an instrumental part in supporting all our events and activities, and Friends are deeply grateful. 

And last, but not least, the Friends organization depended on the daily dedication of our talented and knowledgeable office staff – Jackie Figueroa, Lizzi Ginsberg, and Sara Westman. We wish Jackie the best in her new role as Mia Store manager and Sarah good fortune in her new endeavors. Thank you to everyone.

We are particularly indebted to our well-versed office assistant Lizzi, who now from home handles any office task and coordination with utmost grace and preparedness. 

In closing, I again would like to show my deep appreciation for all Friends members, past and present, who have kept our organization healthy and active for almost one hundred years. Together we can look forward and work to make 2020 a fitting birthday celebration for a strong group that has been devoted contributor wonderful Mia. 

This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

Join The Friends

April Tea Party Introduces New Mia Director to Friends

Mia’s New Director, Katie Luber

Dr. Katherine Crawford Luber, also known as Katie, is the new Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of Mia. Luber comes to Minneapolis from the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), the only encyclopedic fine art institution in south Texas, where she has served as the Kelso Director for the last eight years.

Katie started her tenure as Mia’s director on January 2 and has had, we expect, a whirlwind year so far!

President of the Friends Maria Eggemeyer and the board were looking forward to hosting her at a recent meeting.  As with all things right now, the stay at home order meant that the Friends and Mia improvised that meeting and Katie graciously hosted an online “tea party” on Wednesday, April 29 for Friends Board members.

To join the Tea Party, click here and follow along with the events from April 29.

Born and raised in Texas, Luber’s pathway to art museum leadership combines traditional educational and work experiences with out-of-the-box aspects that strengthen her management and leadership skills. She has a B.A. in art history from Yale University, an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in art history from Bryn Mawr, where her dissertation focused on the paintings of Albrecht Dürer. She was subsequently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in residence at the Kunthistoriches Museum in Vienna to support this scholarship, after which her dissertation was published by Cambridge University Press.

Prior to arriving in San Antonio, Luber’s other art museum positions included serving as a research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, for nearly 10 years, as a John G. Johnson Curator of Northern Renaissance and Baroque Paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she oversaw the reinstallation of those collections, engaged with the museum’s 19th-century French paintings, researched and installed the museum’s collection of Latin American Colonial paintings, and oversaw the installation and mechanical renovation of the building housing the museum’s world-famous Rodin collection. Luber also completed an M.B.A. at Johns Hopkins University, and as founder, president, and CEO launched, managed, and ultimately sold a successful start-up company, underscoring her capacity for innovation.

We extend a warm welcome to Katie from the Friends!

From roadkill to the runway: Artist Holly Young on the purse that became an Art in Bloom sensation

by Diane Richard 
Long before anyone knew what COVID-19 was, or that Mia would close this spring because of it, Holly Young was in Bismarck, North Dakota, thinking about the 2019 Sante Fe Indian Market. It was several months before the nation’s premier showcase for Native artists, and Young was looking for a challenge. So she dug into her stash of roadkill porcupine quills.

Holly Young

She transformed the quills, along with leather and feathers, into a lavish purse imagined for the catwalk. At the market, her extraordinary artwork caught the eye of Jill Ahlberg Yohe, Mia’s associate curator of Native American art. Snared, more like it. Like an eagle surveys a fox eyeing a hare, Young noted Ahlberg Yohe circling back multiple times to examine the purse. When Ahlberg Yohe approached her to praise it, Young felt euphoric. Before long, a purchase was brewing. Three members of the Friends of the Institute—Maria Eggemeyer, Maria Wagner Reamer, and Therese M. Blaine—generously opened their own pocketbooks to secure the purse for the museum’s collection.

Raised in Fort Yates, North Dakota., and now living in Bismarck, Young wasn’t sure the artist life was for her. In times of doubt, the rich art legacy of her Dakota ancestors sustains her. Now, she hopes to be a bridge for future artists—her 12-year-old daughter, Inyan, for instance. “She has finally got into art herself,” she says. “She is such a huge part of my art journey. I feel like it’ll bring us closer.”

Here, she talks about her heritage and the purse, called Floral Legacy, which was chosen as the featured work for Art in Bloom at Mia this year.

How does the natural world inspire you?

I grew up with my grandma out in the country. We lived in a really small house, seven miles out of town on a few acres of land. I don’t think nature was important to me at that time. When I look at my own art now, though, I can see how it was poking its head out. It’s something that’s in me, in my memory. The plants, the flowers, the relationship with the land, the healing properties that come from those things are very inspirational to my art.

I also look at the natural world as the life cycle and the relationship the animals and plants have to one another to survive. I feel that’s how my art life is. I lean on my community, the people, and the traditions to inspire me. I don’t think I flourish without it. Personally, how the natural world has the power to regenerate itself, that’s how I feel about myself as an artist. We have our highs and lows. Sometimes your art life is going really good; sometimes it’s difficult. Pulling from my community, someone will say an encouraging word and I’m able to regenerate myself.

What inspired you to make Floral Legacy?

This was only my second year at the Indian Market. I needed to come up with a big project to challenge myself. Everyone knows me as a bead worker. I knew I wanted to do quillwork; I had just taught myself quillwork. I also do ledger art. I was finishing a ledger piece, and I drew a lady who was holding a bag. I remember thinking, “This is really cute. That’s what I should make.” At the time I thought it wouldn’t be so hard. I really humbled myself thinking how fast it would go. It did not turn out to be like that. It took forever.

To read more of this article: go to the Mia website, here.


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