Loving Local Art

Plains Art Museum: cultural enrichment opportunities near you!

Author’s note: All information cited below can be found on the Plains Art Museum website.

When it comes to solving boredom, I feel like a trip to the art museum is often overlooked. While it may come off as “boring” at first glance, the Plains Art Museum can offer much more than you may expect. This institution aims to “connect art, artists, and audiences to foster creative, resilient, and welcoming communities.” They seek to reach their mission by offering various different programs, exhibitions, lectures, classes, and more. 

This non-profit started off as the Red River Art Center in 1965 in the former Moorhead, Minnesota, post office. It wasn’t named the Plains Art Museum until 1975 and resided in Moorhead until 1996. After the renovation of a warehouse in downtown Fargo, the museum made its move across the river. The museum reopened shortly after to the public in the fall of 1997. 

To achieve their mission statement, the Museum has a certain set of values that they abide by. These can be noted as learning, access, commitment, stewardship, integrity, excellence, and a dynamic workplace. While art is already something that can bring people together, the Museum seeks to take it a step further. By envisioning a community with people who are engaged in art and the creative process and value and support their contributions, as well as those of the artist, the Museum seeks to bring everyone together. 

There are five distinct exhibitions that are currently being displayed at the Plains Art Museum and I’ll be highlighting a few here.. First, there are over 50 various works from the nationally acclaimed artist, Oscar Howe that focus on his “complete artistic process.” This representation of Howe’s process from beginning to end demonstrates his graphic quality and the artistic design that he has developed throughout his career.  “Oscar Howe: Ikíćiksapa” has been on display since late October of last year and will be available to view until March 10. 

“The Practice is the Point” exhibit has been in the Museum since last September and can be found here until March 16. This exhibit focuses on ceramics and the unification of artistic and social practices. The exploration of these practices, specifically listening and reacting to community needs, has been done through a long-running thesis by NDSU professor, Micheal Strand. He believes that the relationships and skills that are required to be a ceramic artist serve as a basis for other community projects. Artists and organizations featured have used different approaches to their work due to differences in time spent, knowledge, and ideas. 

The third exhibit, “A Lazy Love,” explores the liminal space that exists between labor and rest, as well as love and loss. After the end of a long day, artist Ella Weber allows herself to take part in a free 90-minute massage at a Nebraska Furniture Mart. As she reclines in the massage chair, Weber records the dialogue of couples who pass her by. This exhibit is filled with videos, photographs, and “Lazy Boy Poetry.” Weber’s use of graphite drawings reflects her personal failed relationships and lost love, and each chair represents past lives and their conversations and personal connections. 

While these are only a few of the current exhibitions, there is much more that you can expect from the Museum. In addition to numerous exhibits, the Plains Art Museum offers a multitude of different classes and events. There are options for ceramics, oil painting, kids’ crafts, and more. Some upcoming events include Clay for Couples, Tuesdays for Toddlers, intermediate ceramics, Printing in Pairs, and countless others. 

While the Museum and its exhibits are free to the public, these events and other opportunities require payment. However, don’t let this ruin your plans! Depending on what classes you attend, you can be paying anything from $5-200+. While it’s ultimately up to you, you may benefit from getting a membership. They offer student and senior memberships for $35, individual ones for $50, senior households for $70, regular households for $100, and countless other payment plans. With a membership, you can expect to see a 10% discount in the store, a 20% discount on classes provided, a one-year subscription to Plains Art Museum NEWS, and various other opportunities. 

As we live in an area that has a vast cultural history, it is important that we take any opportunity we’re presented with to learn. The Museum recognizes the value that art holds and uses it as a way to “enlighten audiences to buried histories or difficult realities, reveal injustice, and promote multiculturalism.” The Plains Art Museum does this through various initiatives that ultimately support the artwork and voices of Native Americans, other people of color, women, and those with disabilities. 

Having an institution that focuses on concepts like this allows for a safe space for community members to come together. Art can bring people together, and the Plains Art Museum has served as a beacon of community togetherness for years. If you’re ever looking for an opportunity to learn more about other cultures, or are simply looking to pass the time, you should really consider stopping by and taking a look around. 

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