One of the aspects of Minneapolis parks that we cherish is the way they bring community together in our public spaces – natural areas, playgrounds and ballfields, and recreation centers, where community organizations like the Minneapolis Art Lending Library find a welcome place to make connections between artists and art lovers.
In December 2017, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation made a gift to support the Art Lending Library (MALL) because of its mission to connect people to each other through art. MALL lends art to community members, in much the same way that libraries lend books and other media.
MALL’s next lending event is Friday, April 27, 5-8pm, at North Commons Recreation Center. It’s free, open to the public, and families with children are welcome. The featured artist is Lula Selah, but a wide variety of art is available to explore and borrow for a three-month period. This cycle’s return events are also at North Commons, on July 11 and July 14. You find MALL’s complete list of events on their website.
Katherine Smith-Flores is the Director of the Art Lending Library. We asked her to help us introduce the Art Lending Library to people who may not have experienced it yet.
What excites you about the work of the Art Lending Library?
What gets me excited is MALL’s unique model of strengthening our creative community by connecting art appreciators, collectors, and artists. We give artists the opportunity to sell their work to potential buyers and for borrowers who may not have the financial capacity to collect, we continue to be a free community resource.
For people who are new to the Art Lending Library, can you paint us a picture about what the events are like?
We strive to make our lending events welcoming to all, which is one of the reasons why we hold them in public, accessible spaces. When someone enters they are greeted and explained how the process works. There are many tables and modular shelving units filled with a variety of artworks from paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and more. Artists are primarily from the Twin Cities artists, though, many are from greater MN and beyond. Once a borrower has found a piece that speaks to them, they fill out a form with their basic contact information, we wrap the artwork, and then it’s theirs to display in their home or office for a three-month period. Borrowers and attendees are also invited to participate in an interactive artist-led project. The idea is to give artists the chance to illustrate their unique practice and encourage creativity in participants.
Lula Saleh is your featured artist for the April lending event. What can you tell us about her and her work?
Lula Saleh is an Eritrean-Ethiopian, Saudi American multidisciplinary artist, storyteller and writer, with a background in journalism. Her work offers an international and transnational lens, at the intersection of home, culture, migration and identity. She has been a featured speaker/performer with TEDxMinneapolis, Button Poetry, Amnesty International, Yale University’s African Salon, Sofar Sounds, Green Card Voices and more. Lula is also the founder of the East African Diaspora Artists Initiative, a creative enterprise that utilizes storytelling, arts and entrepreneurship to amplify the work of African creatives and changemakers.
During the lending event, visitors will have the opportunity to participate in an interactive activity lead by artist Lula Saleh. Lula will create watercolor postcards that visitors can use as a canvas to write their own love poem or note of affirmation and mail it to a loved one. This family-friendly activity will be free and open to all who visit the lending event.
Featured images courtesy of MALL; post updated November 2020.