Minneapolis Institute of Art Presents All-New Exhibition Featuring Nordic Inspired Artworks from Acclaimed Artist Tia Keobounpheng

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A Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program artist, Keobounpheng’s collection will feature artworks across a variety of mediums that highlight the complexities of personal identity

MINNEAPOLIS (July 10, 2023) — The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) will open its newest exhibition, “Revealing Threads,” this summer, featuring 30 artworks from celebrated artist, designer, and maker Tia Keobounpheng, best known for her intricately embroidered tapestries and jewelry design. The collection will be on view from July 22 through Oct. 29, 2023, and will take place as part of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP).
A Finnish and Sámi descendant, Keobounpheng uses her artistic practice to reconcile her cultural identity based on new information about her ancestral lineage. Inspired by a 2022 research trip to Sápmi, the traditional land of the Sámi people, “Revealing Threads” features a selection of Keobounpheng’s abstract tapestries, influenced by traditional Nordic handwork techniques and infused with contemporary interpretations and symbolism. The results speak to marginalized histories, heritage, and the complexity of personal identity.

“This body of work emerges from my research about the colonial history of the Nordic nation states and my own lived and ancestral connection to colonizers and the colonized in Sweden and Finland,” said Keobounpheng. “Uncovering my Sámi bloodlines puts aspects of my lived experience into a new, more complicated context that extends back more than seven generations. As a white American, it is my responsibility to unlearn the effects of colonialism as I claim this lineage. Through my work, I practice holding the spectrum between binary extremes and imagine my own belonging within an expansive Indigenous worldview.”

The free exhibition will showcase 30 unique artworks across various mediums and sizes. Visitors are invited to experience Keobounpheng’s journey of self-discovery, learn about her connections to Sámi heritage through her unique visual vernacular rooted in traditional textile techniques.

“We are thrilled to present ‘Revealing Threads’ as the latest MAEP exhibition at Mia,” said Nicole Soukup, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at Mia. “Tia’s work provides a glimpse into her deeply personal story of self-discovery, resilience, and the responsibilities of familial knowledge. Not only is the artwork visually stunning, but it deepens many of the conversations we are having in the United States today—conversations about identity, self-care, belonging, and heritage.”

Upon entry, visitors will be immersed in darkness as they encounter an installation titled WAYFIND. A projected film sequence, captured by Keobounpheng on her journey through Sápmi, is a backdrop for the physical items in the center of the room. The art dress, worn by Keobounpheng in the film, is encircled by a ring of sixteen orange Norwegian road-markers, symbolizing her dependence on the circle as a guide in her practice.

Following WAYFIND, the exhibition opens into a warm gallery space with embroidered panels of various sizes. THREADS no9 features a geometric thread and colored pencil tapestry created on wood panel, a large-scale installation that pays homage to Keobounpheng’s family tree. Honoring her late grandfather, the only grandparent she knew growing up, the base layer of the artwork showcases four, eight, sixteen, and thirty-two color-coordinated geometric circles that resurrect the memory of generations of grandparents who came before her and live through her now.

Honoring the differences in American, Finnish, and Sámi cultural interpretations of the aurora borealis, THREADS no10 illuminates Keobounpheng’s vision of the northern lights. The layered thread patterns create an optical illusion of sorts, inviting visitors to move around the artwork, experience its full depth, and contemplate the stories humanity tells about the natural world.”

We are thrilled to feature some of Tia Keobounpheng’s newest artworks in “Revealing Threads,” the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program’s latest exhibition,” said Katie Luber, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of Mia. “Not only is Tia an important artist and creator within the Minnesota community, her works inspire a nuanced and necessary look at what role long-standing heritage and culture plays in the modern world and invites visitors to reflect on larger themes of belonging and personal identity.”
This exhibition is made possible by RBC Wealth Management.
For more information on Tia Keobounpheng’s “Revealing Threads” exhibition as well as ways to view the collection, visit ArtsMia.org.

About Tia Keobounpheng
Keobounpheng is a designer/maker and artist living and working in North Minneapolis. She is a recipient of the 2023 American Scandinavian Foundation’s Folk Arts and Cultural Traditions Grant, 2017 and 2020 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants, the 2018 and 2023 McKnight Foundation’s Next Step Fund, and the 2022 Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Individuals Grant. Her work has been shown at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Finlandia University Gallery in Hancock, Michigan; the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. Her laser-cut jewelry has been sold by design retailers across the country for over a decade and will be available for purchase at the Store at Mia.

About MAEP
The Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) is a curatorial program of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, dedicated to exhibiting and supporting artists living and working in Minnesota. It was founded in 1975 as a yearlong partnership between the museum and regional artists interested in creating an innovative exhibition and programming space—an agreement that has become a unique, ongoing relationship. The MAEP presents contemporary art within the context of an encyclopedic art museum, inserting the state’s artists into a broader discourse about history, art, and culture. The program has featured solo and group shows, site-specific installations, retrospectives, and the once-every-decade “Foot in the Door” exhibitions, and has often been the first major exposure for artists who have gone on to critical and commercial success.