Exploring Land and Water Ownership Through Art

MENOMONIE, Wisconsin (WEAU) – An art exhibit at UW-Stout hopes to draw attention to the issues surrounding two of our most important resources: land and water.

To Hold The Land is an art exhibition focusing on issues facing land and water, from property to extraction.

Witt Siasoco is an artist from the Twin Cities and the first curator of the exhibition.

“To Hold The Land is an exhibition that really explores the issues artists face around land and water issues and the exhibition really comes from my own personal experience and my reflection on my connection to land, whether by private property or by water or by owning my house, ”Siasoco said. “I really started to think about how the land has historically been used as a tool of oppression. “

Eleven artists of different racial and ethnic backgrounds from the Midwest and New Mexico presented their own ideas, thoughts or experiences regarding land and water ownership.

“A lot of these items in the exhibit, including the teepee, are items that have been used in activist activities or things that have been used to protest against artists or what these people think needs to be changed,” he said. said Siasoco.

Michal Hoyt is one of the featured artists. Over the summer he made paintings as part of a project called “Free the Deeds” where he captured two families on the north and south sides of Minneapolis who were discriminated against while searching for housing because of a practice that determines where people can live.

“The two portraits therein were displayed in every city as part of a larger effort to educate the public about the racial alliances that existed in the cities and across the country,” Hoyt said.

Other artists address immigration, Indigenous sovereignty, and industries that profit from the land by extracting minerals, oil and timber.

Siasoco says these are real issues happening now.

“I think they’re the ones who can ask the questions non-verbally and the art is a great way to get people to talk about things they might not talk about and they can bring their own experiences,” Siasoco mentioned.

Siasoco hopes the exhibit will inspire conversations and solutions.

To Hold The Land is on view until December 18 at UW-Stout’s Furlong Gallery. The gallery is open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 4 p.m. on Friday.

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