John Torgrimson, of rural Lanesboro, participates in “Something Good” in May 2018 with artist Erin Lavelle.
This year’s artist in residence at Lanesboro Arts Erin Lavelle invites the Lanesboro-area community to participate in the second half of “Something Good,” a public art exchange project that engages community members in conversations about value, commodities, sustainability and the power of the stories embedded in an object’s history.
An interdisciplinary artist based in Minneapolis, Lavelle believes that the meaningful exchange of stories and goods amongst neighbors has the power to move a community forward in the way members relate to each other and promote problem-solving through deeper listening skills. “Something Good” is an experiment based on the Buddhist concept of dana (generosity) where both the specific gift and the recipient are considered when giving.
Lavelle is joining the Lanesboro community for two short residencies in 2018 supported by the Jerome Foundation. The first took place in April/May and the second is happening from August 6-20. Over 45 goods and stories were contributed to “Something Good” in April and May through a donation and storytelling event series! The future of those goods and stories will be revealed from August 15-18 when Lavelle completes the project, and again, residents and visitors will have an opportunity to participate.
‘Something Good’ discussion events
• A happy-hour potluck will take place at The Granary in Lanesboro on Wednesday, August 8, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bring a recipe with a story behind it, and prepare to share that story, as well as the food!
• A residency farewell discussion and reception will happen on the Lanesboro Museum’s outdoor river porch on Sunday, August 19, at 4 p.m. (The rain site is The Granary.) Refreshments will be provided!
Share your story! Participants can drop in between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15; Thursday, August 16; Friday, August 17; or Saturday, August 18, at the corner of Kenilworth Avenue North and Coffee Street East in downtown Lanesboro, across from the Lanesboro Visitor Center.
The stories of the contributed objects’ past, and the potential each object has for the future, will be considered further through Lavelle’s public art intervention where participants will share their story, hear the story of the goods being offered and learn how they can be carried forward.
Lavelle will be a special guest at the yard-sale themed Over the Back Fence community variety show at the St. Mane Theatre on Friday, August 10, at 7:30 p.m. She also plans to participate in yoga class at Coffee Street Fitness on August 7 and 14, the Intentional Quietude meditation group at Discover Faith Community on August 12 and 19, and other various community events.
Lavelle’s hope is that this project will inspire the community to consider sustainability and alternate futures for goods; will liberate individuals to “let go” of things that no longer serve them, but that can be used by others; and promote future sharing and exchange.
All goods were given to the project out of a spirit of radical generosity. Participants were encouraged to give the most valuable offering they are able to share, keeping in mind that value is subjective. What has outgrown its environment or conditions? What might bring more joy or better use to others? What is so beloved that you are compelled to share it? Community members still interested in contributing a good and story to the project can do so by emailing Lavelle at email@example.com to schedule a collection appointment.
Lavelle piloted this project in her Minneapolis neighborhood in July 2016 and was overwhelmed with the participation, curiosity, and heartfelt response from these willing collaborators. “What I found was that this project not only provides a platform for people to share stories, but it promotes participation in deep and meaningful listening and exchange by virtue of its intimate and inviting interactions,” Lavelle shared. “I have run into people months after the project who stop me on the street and share an update of their object or story.”
Lavelle is an artist who creates projects in engagement and exchange. She holds an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College in Port Townsend, Wash., and is a lifelong Minneapolitan. Lavelle works in interdisciplinary media, primarily installation, fiber arts, Buddhist philosophy, environmental science, storytelling and performance. Her work is often in response to the issues facing contemporary culture and relevant to shared humanity, including homelessness, labor practices, the environment, health and wellness, isolation, social justice and self-love.
Lavelle comes highly recommended by the Lanesboro Arts Residency panel, from a pool of more than 70 applicants of artists from Minnesota and New York City. Since the Lanesboro Residency Program’s inception in 2001, Lanesboro Arts has brought 47 artists to Lanesboro for Artist Residencies. Supported by the Jerome Foundation, the Artist Residency Program provides opportunities for emerging artists to create new work and integrate work into the local community. Lanesboro Arts Residencies include stipend, lodging and studio space. For more information, visit lanesboroarts.org.