A to Zåäö: Exploring ASI’s Collection
The ASI welcomes Tara Sweeney and Nate Christopherson, a St. Paul-based mother and son creative team, who will illustrate a series of 29 objects from our historic collection, each representing a letter from the Swedish alphabet. Sweeney’s lush watercolors create glowing portraits of objects that Christopherson’s mischievous little ink narrative characters explore in adventurous and original ways.
The letter for each illustration is inspired by a Swedish verb. The visual narrative of the characters’ explorations and actions loosely translates the verbs. The artists explore the collection through a disinhibited child’s eye view with delightful irreverence. Each illustration introduces a new character and includes all the characters from previous illustrations, resulting in the equivalent of a book-long chase scene. Inspiration for each character comes from historical records, the provenance of the object, and/or imagination run wild.
The watercolor and drawing works are part of this first collaborative project for Sweeney and Christopherson, intended to encourage intergenerational storytelling, showcase the historic collection, provide a humorous, illustrated language resource for all ages, and celebrate ASI’s 90 years as a collecting museum.
Many of the objects selected for this project were "crowd-sourced," so ASI audiences had the opportunity to vote for favorite objects. Sweeney and Christopherson are working in ASI’s public galleries during July, illustrating the objects together.Sweeney is an award-winning book illustrator/designer who is Associate Professor and Art Department Chair at Augsburg College. Christopherson is an illustrator, wood engraver, printmaker and charter school teacher.
This project is part of our ongoing commitment to working with Minnesota artists. It is an activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a 2017 Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Tara Sweeney was born in Minnesota and lives in St. Paul. She has worked in the Twin Cities’ creative community for more than thirty years. Her distinctive body of work explores figure, identity and sense of place. She is Associate Professor and Art Department Chair at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, where she has been teaching since 1991. She began her creative practice as executive art director for Minneapolis –St. Paul Magazine, and as an award-winning freelance book illustrator and designer for Graywolf, Harper and Row Perennial Library, Hazelden, Milkweed Editions, Minnesota History Press, and University of Minnesota Press.
Nate Christopherson is a St. Paul-based illustrator, wood engraver, printmaker and charter school teacher. His illustrations have been featured in Minidewak: Readings from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and The Island, an artistic exchange between Christopherson and writer Josiah Titus.
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