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Local artist chosen for Twin Cities exhibit

Published 11:11am Friday, April 11, 2014 Updated 12:59pm Friday, April 11, 2014

Local artist Naomi Schliesman is one of 12 contemporary, rural Minnesota artists selected for an exhibit in Minneapolis.

The exhibit, Rural America Contemporary Art: Making Nowhere into Somewhere, features contemporary artists from a diverse range of rural Minnesota communities. It is at the McKnight Foundation in the Cynthia Binger Boynton lobby gallery in Minneapolis and runs through July.

Artist Naomi Schliesman spent about two years on this colorful piece. Made out of velvet fleece, it’s one that people want to touch when they see it in the exhibit.
Artist Naomi Schliesman spent about two years on this colorful piece. Made out of velvet fleece, it’s one that people want to touch when they see it in the exhibit.

“I was honored, first of all, that they have recognized me as a rural, contemporary artist,” Schliesman said. “It makes me feel that I am important in what I am creating.”

Members of RACA saw Schliesman’s work in an art show at the Rural Arts and Cultural Summit. It must have made a good impression, as they invited her to show her work in the Making Nowhere into Somewhere exhibit.

Schliesman, artist development coordinator for Springboard for the Arts in Fergus Falls, has two sculptures in the exhibit. For one, she cut out forms, trimmed them, sewed them shut, glued them together and made a wood base for it to sit on. She’s never counted all the pieces that got put together into one sculpture, but it’s probably hundreds.

“It took me two years to do this piece,” Schliesman said. “Everyone is fascinated with them because they’re made out of velvet fleece. They know they shouldn’t touch it, but they really, really want to.”


With such a soft texture, some people just can’t help themselves; they sneak a touch anyway.

That colorful sculpture represents diseases in our bodies and how they can mutate and grow, Schliesman said. It also has to do with how environments affect our bodies.

As for the exhibit, Schliesman knows there are many contemporary artists living in rural areas and showing in metro cities.

“The rural arts is just as important as urban arts,” she said. “We all have something to say about our work. It’s important that we can show that we can make this work.”

RACA is an organization created to promote the visibility of and initiate dialogue among contemporary artists that do not live in high-density urban centers. Since 2004, the McKnight Foundation has used its lobby gallery to exhibit works that illuminate the range of involvements and interests of the Foundation’s grant-making program areas.

Other featured artists with work in the exhibit include Gregory Euclide (Le Seur), David Hamlow (Good Thunder), Patricia Canelake (Knife River), Michael Eble (Morris), Lisa Bergh (New London), Liz Miller (Good Thunder), David Rogers (Skyline), Matt Willemsen (North Mankato), Michelle Johnson (Mankato), Andrew Nordin (New London) and Brian Fink (Mankato).

Go to for more information about RACA.

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