Erin is a site-specific interdisciplinary artist from Minneapolis that engaged the Lanesboro community in "Something Good," a public art exchange project promoting conversations about value, commodities, sustainability, and the power of the stories embedded in an object’s history, April 23 - May 7 & Aug. 6 - 20, 2018 as an Artist in Residence at Lanesboro Arts.
Minneapolis-based performance artist Erin Lavelle believes that the meaningful exchange of stories and goods amongst neighbors has the power to move a community forward in the way members relate to each other; promoting problem-solving through deeper listening skills. As a 2018 artist in residence at Lanesboro Arts, Erin invited the Lanesboro area community to participate in ‘Something Good,’a public art exchange project that engaged community members in conversations about value, commodities, sustainability and the power of the stories embedded in an object’s history. This project was an experiment based on the Buddhist concept of dana (generosity) where both the specific gift and the recipient are considered when giving.
Lavelle joined the Lanesboro community for two residencies, the first took place in April/May and the other happened August 6 – 20. Over 45 goods and stories were contributed to ‘Something Good’ in April & May through a donation and storytelling event series! The future of those goods and stories were revealed August 15 – 18 when Lavelle completed the project, and again, residents and visitors will had an opportunity to participate.
Something Good Discussion Events
- A Happy Hour Potluck took place at the Granary in Lanesboro on Wednesday, August 8, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Bring a recipe with a story behind it, and prepare to share that story, as well as the food!”
- A Residency Farewell Discussion and Reception happened on the Lanesboro Museum’s outdoor porch on Sunday, August 19 at 4 p.m. (Rain site The Granary). Refreshments provided!
Something Good Distribution Events
- Share your story! Participants dropped in between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wed. August 15, Thurs. August 16, Fri. August 17, or Sat. August 18 at the corner of Kenilworth Ave N & Coffee St E in downtown Lanesboro, across from the Lanesboro Visitor Center
- The stories of the contributed objects’ past, and the potential each object has for the future, were considered further through Erin’s public art intervention where participants shared their story, heard the story of the goods being offered and learned how they can be carried forward.
Erin was a special guest on the “Yard Sale” themed “Over the Back Fence” community variety show at the St. Mane Theatre on Friday, August 10 at 7:30 p.m. She also participated in Yoga Class at Coffee Street Fitness on August 7 and 14, the Intentional Quietude meditation group at Discover Faith Community on August 12 and 19, and other various community events.
Erin’s hope is that this project inspired the community to consider sustainability and alternate futures for goods; liberated individuals to ‘let go’ of things that no longer serve them, but that can be used by others, and promote future sharing and exchange.
All goods were given to the project out of a spirit of radical generosity. Participants were encouraged to give the most valuable offering they are able to share, keeping in mind that value is subjective. What has outgrown its environment or conditions? What might bring more joy or better use to others? What is so beloved that you are compelled to share it?
Erin piloted this project in her Minneapolis neighborhood in July of 2016 and was overwhelmed with the participation, curiosity, and heartfelt response from these willing collaborators. “What I found was that this project not only provides a platform for people to share stories, but it promotes participation in deep and meaningful listening and exchange by virtue of its intimate and inviting interactions,” Erin shares. “I have run into people months after the project who stop me on the street and share an update of their object or story.”
Erin Lavelle is a public artist who creates projects in engagement and exchange. She works in interdisciplinary media, primarily: installation, fiber arts, Buddhist philosophy, environmental science, storytelling and performance. Her work is often in response to the issues facing contemporary culture and relevant to our shared humanity, including: homelessness, labor practices, the environment, health and wellness, isolation, social justice and self-love.
She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Port Townsend, WA and is a lifelong Minneapolitan. Recent public art projects have included sculptural installations in the Made Here exhibit in empty storefronts of downtown Minneapolis; a 196-hour mindfulness textile art practice in the Minneapolis Public Libraries; a generosity-based exchange project in her front yard; an interactive place-based mystery game played on bicycles along the Minnehaha Creek Watershed; temporary community structures on a frozen suburban lake with Art Shanty Projects; an annual collective ritual of self-love on Valentine’s Day in a public park; and a participatory mail art performance project at the Northern Spark festival in Minneapolis.
Archive of events in April and May:
Something Good Discussion Events
- A welcome discussion & potluck dinner took place in the upper level studio space above the St. Mane Theatre on Wednesday, April 25, at 6:00 p.m. “Bring a recipe with a story behind it, and prepare to share that story, as well as the food!”
- Two Happy Hour Community Discussion Groups on Value & Generosity
Something Good Collection Events
- Erin was set up Collecting Stories & Goods inside the former Slant Avenue space at 105 Elmwood St E
- Erin was also Collecting Stories & Goods at the Lanesboro Farmer’s Market opener on Saturday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Erin also visited Yoga Class at Coffee Street Fitness on April 24, the Journalism Classroom of Stena Lieb at Lanesboro School on April 25, SEMCAC Senior Dining with Lanesboro Museum Director Sandy Webb on April 26, and the Full Moon Lanesboro Yoga Retreat on April 28.
Listen to the podcast interview below conducted in November 2018 that features Lavelle reflecting on her Lanesboro residency experience.