Thursday, February 18, 2010

Opportunity Knocks Once A Decade

by Rob Callahan

Once every ten years, Minnesota artists converge on the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to contribute one small piece of visual art to a massive display of local vision and talent. The event is Foot In The Door, an exhibition open to any contributor with an offering of visual art that can fit into a 12 inch square space, or a video installment 80 seconds or less in length. Since 1980, Foot in the Door has celebrated the diversity and enthusiasm of Minnesota's visual arts community. Organized by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program and held at the MIA, the fourth installment of this infrequent and wildly-popular exhibition promises to present the largest collection of art in the state of Minnesota.

photo by Erlin1 on flickr

l'etoile recently tracked down MAEP Coordinator Christopher Atkins and, in between frantic last minute preparations, got him to tell us a little more about the upcoming Foot In The Door 4:

What was the impetus behind the first Foot In The Door?

When Foot in the Door began in 1980, it was an opportunity for the artists of the state to have their work on display in the museum. But more importantly, and what we've made a point to carry through this year, is to focus on vast quantity of artists and their creative spirit rather than selection. After all, any artwork that fits into the box is in the show.

How did you come to be involved in Foot In The Door?

I started as the Coordinator of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program last March. In the first few months we made some early preparations for Foot in the Door. We knew it was coming, the public was getting excited and there was lots of work to be done in order to prepare.

How much of the MIA is being utilized for Foot In The Door 4? Do you have a cutoff point or will you fill as much of the Institute as you need?

Our original plans were to fill the two MAEP galleries on the 2nd Floor of the Target Wing. With the massive popularity of the show and the support of our staff, we've filled both of those galleries, spilled into and filled a 3rd, and are now going into the atrium space. It's unprecedented how big this show has become and how many people have chipped in to make it happen.

photo by Erlin1 on flickr

Are there artists that come to mind who have been featured at Foot In The Door in the past, who have have gone on to enjoy great recognition and success?

None that I know of. To be honest, if you're hoping to be discovered, you're missing the point of the show. As you'll see when the show is open, what we what to emphasize is Foot in the Door is about participating in the Minnesota arts community and showing just how many people identify as artists.

Foot In The Door is a once-in-a-decade event. Why not have it more frequently?

Why not do it more frequently? If you were here working with us over the past few weeks, I think you'd understand [laughing].

Are there any participants this year that you are especially excited about?

Again, we're excited for everyone to be a part of the show rather than any single artwork. Of course, people will see pieces they like and are really excited about. But it's important to step back and see this as a massive creative effort: all of the artwork submitted that has been hung in a massive salon style format as well as the sheer effort of making it happen. It couldn't have been done without so much help from MIA staff and volunteers, everyone was so excited to help and be part of the show.

Aside from the involvement of the MIA, what other organizations and events are integral to Foot In The Door's success?

I may have answered this already but everyone here at the museum really pulled together. We knew people wanted to have their work in the show but they were also so willing to help with everything from data entry to registration to filing to being cheerleaders for the show. It really takes a village...

The Event: Foot in the Door 4, Opening Reception By: Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) When: Thursday, February 18, 2010 from 6pm to 9pm Where: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts 2400 Third Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55404 (888) MIA ARTS (642-2787)

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