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Art Shanty Visit

Meghan Timm
Photo 1701

While visiting the Art Shanty Project on Medicine Lake in Plymouth MN this past weekend, I found the experience, a little cold yet an interesting demonstration of creative expression. I found the stories amazing of the people in their Arctic Expedition shanty; for they had been living sleeping there shanty and shared their experiences, one of which was waking up to ice on their bedding. Although there was not a whole lot to actually do in the submarine shanty I found the fact that they used “Sorry? board game pieces for buttons a creative and useful idea. There was also the knitting shanty, which was by far the warmest of the day, and perhaps the most educational of the shanties I had visited. Not only did I learn how to knit but I also, learned about the knitting squares that were being donated to be made into blankets that were going to be donated to a local organization, I found the thought of this act of kindness quite intriguing and a good way to make a connection to the local community. I also found the confession shanty an interesting concept, something I would never have thought of. I found myself finding constantly reading people’s written confessions posted to the outside of the shanty, until I could not take the cold anymore, in which I made my way inside to contribute my own. Throughout the different shanties that I visited, for not all were opened, I found the theatre or black box shanty to be very clever and probably my favorite. The separation of stage from the audience made this shanty one of the larger ones that I had seen. Although it seemed spacious, it quickly filled up when the performance I watched was about to begin on the last day of the exhibition. The performers all bundled up, sang with beautiful harmony and as one of the man stated, they are a local group from the Minneapolis area and tend to sing “whatever they feel like,? as the comment was followed by chuckles from the audience. Most of their songs were folk songs and ballads, again the harmonizing was remarkable, and everything was acapella making the performance all the more impressive. The songs were also in a variety of languages ranging from English to French. The performance was in a very relaxed setting as both the audience members and singers were bundled up, some singers standing, some sitting, and one even bouncing a baby on her knee-almost the perfect storybook setting. The group of about seven looked different in many ways yet all seemed to come together to sing, and the audience, including myself, seemed almost captive to their performance. This group was very easy to become completely engaged in their performance- I almost forgot I was in an ice house on the middle of Medicine Lake. Overall the experience was a positive one and I enjoyed myself more than I expected. Visiting this exhibition definitely had an impact on me for the rest of the day, with the brainstorming of ideas of possible art shanties for the 2010 Art Shanty Project that continued in my head for the rest of the afternoon.