Thursday, February 2, 6:30 p.m.
Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport IA
With her latest exhibition showcasing more than a dozen new works, one of them an installation created specifically for its Davenport venue, noted area artist and professor Zaiga Minka Thorson is the invited guest at the Figge Art Museum's February 2 artist talk, during which the longtime Black Hawk College instructor will discuss the pieces on display in her collection Storms & Silver Linings.
In her Storms & Silver Linings exhibition, Thorson will create a site-specific installation in the Davenport museum's first-floor Gildehaus Gallery titled Spirit Vessel, a suspended boat made of wire and fabric, serving as a repository to carry away pain and burdens. Above Spirit Vessel, glowing papier mache orbs will be suspended, representing hope, gratitude, and spiritual connections. Thorson lost her father Alfred Minka in 2013 when he was murdered in her childhood home. This terrible crime was committed by a neighbor whom her father knew and had trusted, amplifying the trauma of the experience. Thorson’s grief led to the creation of her artworks Leelaunau Cathedral and Baltic Coast, which had a significant impact on the direction of her work on display in Storms and Silver Linings.
“The Storms and Silver Linings title serves as a metaphor for our shared experiences of joys and sorrows throughout life," said Thorson. ”I turn to creating as a way to comprehend the world, express feelings and even as a form of escapism. My hope is that by openly sharing my story, it may help others on their own healing journey and lead to greater understanding and empathy among all of us."
In addition to the site-specific elements, Storms & Silver Linings will contain 18 new paintings, featuring imagery that elicits memories of Thorson’s childhood and her concept of spirituality, life’s joyous moments and the power of the divine in nature. Components of the installation were created in collaboration with community members who were invited to participate in a series of workshops at the museum hosted by Thorson and art therapist Dana Keeton leading up to the exhibition. These participants were invited to tell their own stories of loss, gratitude, and acceptance through creation. “It is wonderful to be able to tell a personal story of healing through provocative works created by a beloved local artist in our galleries,” said Assistant Curator Joshua Johnson. “Zaiga’s generosity in inviting the community to participate in her journey towards acceptance is very moving.”
By sharing her own story of healing, Thorson hopes others may consider artmaking as a tool for expression, acceptance and empathy. Visitors will be invited to tell their stories of hope, burden, and gratitude by writing on pieces of cloth and paper which will be continuously added by Thorson to the sculptural components of the exhibition, the supporting sponsor for which is The Current Iowa Hotel, with Wynne and David Schafer as contributing sponsors.
Michigan native Thorson is a Black Hawk College Professor Emerita, having taught at the Moline institution since 1999. She holds a BFA in Painting from Western Michigan University and an MFA in Painting from Northern Illinois University, and is represented by Iowa Artisans Gallery in Iowa City. Having received numerous awards for her graphic design and artwork, which she exhibits both regionally and nationally, Thorson has served on the education committee for the Figge Art Museum, as well as on the Rock Island Preservation Commission and the Visual Arts Committee of Rock Island's Quad City Arts. She has stated that her reverence for nature is rooted in her Latvian heritage and growing up in Michigan, and her interests include research and travel to America's National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites, her points of interest particularly focused on sacred sites.
The artist talk with Zaiga Mika Thorson will take place in Davenport on February 2, participation in the 6:30 p.m. event is free, and Zaiga Minka Thorson: Storms & Silver Linings will be on display from January 28 through May 7. For more information, call (563)326-7804 and visit FiggeArtMuseum.org.