Art is Community

Joe Horton grew up in Milwaukee, studied psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and gravitated to the Twin Cities, where he has established himself as a multidisciplinary force. Rap music, theater, fiction writing, film directing—he does them all, often with the help of a loyal crew. “It all feels like one thing to me,” he says. “Art is simply the way for me to explore alternative narratives of reality.”

This year, Horton became Mia’s artist-in-residence. Kaywin Feldman, then Mia’s director, had invited him to “Come into the museum and stick your nose in wherever you can fit in,” Horton says. It was an opportunity to have an artist at the table—indeed, many tables.

“I’m meeting with people, hearing people, sharing my perspective,” Horton says. “Really helping with the thought of how the museum stays relevant in the face of a rapidly changing cultural environment.”

Horton’s work has shown up in the African galleries, where he put together an improvisational concert inspired by barkcloth paintings from the Congo. And it’s shown up in the Contemporary Art galleries, where Horton debuted his short film Vessel, blending the classical storytelling of opera and ballet with Afrofuturism and surrealism.

“Museums can transform your experiences with the world,” says Keisha Williams, Curatorial Department Assistant and Artist Liaison at Mia. “Bringing visitors into conversations with living artists is one way to do that. Artists like Joe can invite you into this space in really soulful, almost divine ways.”

Past Stories

Art is Community 2018

Alicia Kleppinger’s son had recently been diagnosed as neurodiverse. He was 2 years old. Kleppinger was facing a long and uncertain future. Then she heard about Mia’s Social Narratives guides, which explain the museum experience to the neurodiverse community to help plan their visit.

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