Visiting Artist / Aliza Nisenbaum
Aliza Nisenbaum, New York City-based painter and assistant professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, completed a three-month residency at the Mia this summer. Nisenbaum has “dedicated her practice to creating intimate, vividly colored oil-on-canvas portraits of undocumented immigrants in the New York City area. Through her artistic process, Nisenbaum seeks to transform the traditional artist-sitter relationship; her lengthy portrait sessions allow her to deeply engage with the people and communities she paints to explore the ethical experiences of exchange, engage in new means for human connection, and shed light on immigrant groups too often left in the shadows.”
Over the course of her summer spent in Minneapolis, Nisenbaum “worked closely with groups in the Phillips and Whittier neighborhoods, including Centro Tyrone Guzman, Hope Community, and Mia’s own security guards, to create three large-scale group portraits each representing their respective communities. The resulting paintings represent the diverse communities that live and work in Phillips and Whittier, some of whom are Latino and Somali immigrants.”
In conjunction with her exhibition, A Place We Share, the Mia hosted a round table discussion to explore the powerful role art can play in community building. Panel participants included Nisenbaum and prominent arts and community leaders DeAnna Cummings, Chaka Mkali, Rory Wakemup, and Gabriel Ritter. The discussion aimed to foster connections between people living in the Phillips and Whittier neighborhoods and arts institutions such as the Mia. “Key topics and questions for discussion will included: How can a museum or public art space function as a community platform? How can art be used as a tool for community building and collaboration? How might cross-sector partnerships, using art as a vehicle for collaboration, reduce barriers and build greater social cohesion in our communities?”
The day after the panel discussion, Nisenbaum visited the MFA studios and gallery for a luncheon and round table discussion with MFA students. Participating students included current MFA students Heather Lamanno ’19, Anika Schneider ’19, Yuta Uchido ’19, Jonathan Aller ’18, Shun Jie Yong ’18, and Zoe Cinel ’18. Thanks for visiting, Aliza!
Photos by Yi Wan and Libby Wiswall.
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