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Lynette Nyman, (612) 870-3173;
Tammy Pleshek, (612) 870-3171;
Anne-Marie Wagener, (612) 870-3280;

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November 16, 2007–January 13, 2008

Minneapolis, September 12, 2007—New work by Minnesota-based artist Ta-coumba Aiken and others will be featured in an exhibition opening November 16 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “Call and Response” is a celebration of creativity, painting, and community. This exhibition fills two galleries with art created, Aiken says, “to heal the hearts and souls of people and communities by evoking a positive spirit.” The exhibition includes new work by Robin Taple, Seitu Jones, William Slack, Carei Thomas, and Peter Jadoonath. This exhibition is organized by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, an artist-run curatorial department at the MIA.

Aiken’s canvases surprise and delight with their swirling patterns and bright colors. Aiken calls his work “spirit writing.” He allows the paint to guide him rather than forcing a conscious desire to draw a specific person or scene. For the viewer, each work offers something subjective and unique. “It’s your world,” Aiken says. “I’m just giving you the map to go with it.” The paintings change, even for the artist, who says he sees new forms emerge over time. In “Heart Menders” (2006), for instance, a slight shift of perspective allows viewers to see different forms—faces and hands—created from the same lines.

Other images, such as those in “Call and Response II” (2007), integrate what Aiken calls “rhythm patterns”—or images that repeat and connect across the canvas. These create the underlying structure of Aiken’s work. The lines form patterns and shapes revealed by the eye and mind of the viewer. Some images are universal: traditional African masks and dance. “Things that go to the deepest part of your soul are the things that I paint,” Aiken says.

For the exhibition, Aiken collaborated with several artists: he made textiles with Taple, windows with Jones and Slack, paintings with Thomas, and ceramics with Jadoonath. According to Aiken, collaborations promote inspiration and expand the artwork beyond a single imagination. A public response from is invited, too. For example, an interactive mosaic allows visitors to arrange pieces of ceramic tiles in their own collaboration with the artists. Visitors can also communicate with the artists online through the MAEPedia:

Aiken’s previous work includes painted murals for grain elevators and parking ramps, a ceramic tile fireplace for the new Minneapolis Central Library, and an original work for Absolut Vodka’s Expression of African-American artists in 1998. Aiken is a strong advocate for using art for healing. He has allowed his paintings to be used as posters, fliers, and other promotional materials to bring attention to fighting AIDS and homelessness, and promoting children’s health issues.

An opening reception for this exhibition will be held on Thursday, November 15, at 7 p.m. Aiken will give an artist talk on Thursday, November 29, at 7 p.m. A critic’s trialogue with Deborah Karasov will be presented on Thursday, December 13, at 7 p.m. All events are free.

The Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) is made possible by a generous grant from the Jerome Foundation.

About the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses nearly 100,000 works of art representing more than 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt, Poussin, and van Gogh; modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Stella, and Close; as well as internationally significant collections of prints and drawings, decorative arts, Modernist design, photographs, prints and drawings, and Asian, African, and Native American art. General admission is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee. Museum hours: Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Monday closed. For more information, call (612) 870-3131 or visit

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