At our last public event for The Transition Stage, Pangea's Jenny Zander interviewed the brilliant artist who brought The Transition Stage to life: Angela Two Stars.
The Transition Stage is a project supported by Longfellow Rising, a group of over 20 community members that includes business owners, residents, nonprofit leaders, and more invites the community impacted by the events of the uprising to gather on the corner of Lake Street and Minnehaha to share their reflections and experiences over the last year. Community members are invited to write down their laments for our city. This project was co-commissioned by Pangea World Theater and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Read this interview with Angela below, and learn a little more about The Transition Stage.
Hello my name is Angela Two Stars. I am a public artist and an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. I live here in the Twin Cities in St. Paul, and we are here in front of The Transition Stage which is a temporary art installation that is a project with Pangea World Theater and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. We’ve also had assistance from BKV Group and JE Dunn Construction to create this form and this frame here on the corner of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue.
This artwork is a community-based, community-contribution artwork that is meant to offer this local neighborhood that was impacted by the destruction of the uprising that occurred last year after the murder of George Floyd to have a space to come together in community, in healing, and growth as they redevelop their neighborhood.
What do people see when they come here?
We are using a site that has been completely re-activated, a site that was formerly Minnehaha-Lake Wine and Spirits. The owner Steve allowed us to use the space and we installed this cocoon form. We also created an outline that from above looks like a butterfly. There are benches and flowers.
We really activated the entire site for a place of reflection and hope. For people driving by, they can see the artwork. We have hosted some community events where the community has come and offered their contributions of hopes, laments, dreams, and mottoes to sustain through difficult times, and reflections of what the community has endured over the last year.
There’s been so much hope. People have a lot of reflections of things that give them hope. People of all ages have contributed. We have scribbles from a two year old, drawings from young children. We have people writing in their native languages, and it’s really a piece that is a reflection of the community and the diversity of this neighborhood.
This is a temporary installation and once it comes down, I will be collecting all of these strips that people have contributed, and I will be stitching them together into one large canvas, and on the back side I will be creating a butterfly image. So it will be the transformation from a chrysalis into a butterfly, which is a metaphor for the community as they have been transforming in their own path after what they’ve all been through.
What I think is really encouraging is that what people have offered have been really universal thoughts, hopes, and dreams as this neighborhood moves forward: reminders of people to be kind to one another, to overcome the hardships and challenges they’ve been through. There’s a lot of hope and kindness. The space itself, as we’ve been hosting these community events, has been a space for people to come together and just be with each other after this past year of social distancing and COVID and pandemic... To be able to have people just be here in the space with each other has been a really great thing.
The way this is incorporated into the cocoon frame is it’s woven together to represent all of the community and all its diversity woven together to create this neighborhood here in Longfellow, and on this particular site.
Are there any specific ones that stick out?
There’s way too many! It’s so heartwarming, I can’t even think of any favorites, because it’s a representation of everything from the community. I’m really encouraged by what people have included. Before the frame got here, I had these at my studio, and to be able to read what people wrote is really touching.
And it’s really encouraging that once this transitions into its second phase, as a permanent piece, all of these contributions will be fully visible for people to read, when they see this as a two-sided artwork. I really like the words that children have written, the little drawings that they’ve done.
My daughter did a piece. It’s really significant. It’s this one up here, and she did a little drawing, and it’s just people together, with joined hands. And for me it’s just so representative of what this piece means: It’s the community coming together as one. That’s really special that that came from my daughter.
They are all so impactful and meaningful, and they represent the people who have left them and offered them to this piece. So it’s just a beautiful contribution from the people who live here, and their hope of overcoming what they endured.
Stay tuned for more updates on The Transition Stage.
Photos by Jenny Zander.