Weather Forecast


Interactive art project gets local show at Wrenshall barn

Jamie Harvie (left) and Emma Harvie dance as part of Sophronia, an interactive art installation that plays Saturday in Wrenshall. (Photo courtesy of Joellyn Rock)

A collaborative and interactive piece of art inspired by the work of writer Italo Calvino gets a local replay after a successful Minneapolis debut during a dusk-to-dawn festival earlier this summer.

Sophronia, work by Joellyn Rock and Kathy McTavish, will be shown Saturday at the Free Range Film Festival barn in Wrenshall as part of a family-friendly event at the home of the Food Farm.

With their piece, the artists decided to play with a short section of the Italian writer’s book “Invisible Cities.”

Sophronia, in the novel, is a short story about two cities: One is full of carnival imagery, including tents, rides and bold colors. The other is more institutional, with permanent stone fixtures.

“We took that theme and ran with it,” said Rock, an assistant professor in the department of art and design at the University of Minnesota Duluth and an artist who blends traditional hand-drawn and painted pieces with digital components.

The piece was first shown at Northern Spark, an annual overnight art festival in Minneapolis that this year asked artists to consider the theme of projecting a city.

For her part, Rock took the carnival route, using psychedelic colors and shadows of characters performing movements.

An acrobat bends in half backward. A woman in a tutu plays with a hula hoop. A man in a hat practices magic — but first shows that there is nothing up his sleeve.

Those who stopped by the pop up installation at the Walker Art Center in June were invited to bend and dip and create shadow animals. They also had access to props, including hats and hula hoops.

“It was fun to see people start moving their bodies,” Rock said. “It was playful and supportive, and you can’t do anything wrong.”

McTavish, a cellist who also created the ambient soundtrack, took on the institutional, text-driven component that projected prewritten words and phrases in addition to spontaneous submissions from writers playing along on Twitter using Graffiti Angel, software she created and has used in other multi-media art projects.

Rock and McTavish got help from more than a dozen local writers, dancers, filmmakers and visual artists.

“It was one of those fun Duluth mash-up kind of projects,” McTavish said.

Annie Dugan said she first thought Sophronia would be a good fit for the annual Free Range Film Festival.

“It has a similar spirit of country/city collision and carnival feel,” she said.

But the project proved too difficult to incorporate into the film festival she hosts and helps to organize. Still, she saw a value in bringing it to the barn. There is a link between local art and local food, Dugan said, so they added it to the annual farm party.

“Both harness creativity and DIY mentalities and both are such integral parts of our community,” she said.

Go see it

What: Food Farm Farm Party

When: 3-8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Food Farm, 2612 County Road 1, Wrenshall

Tickets: Free, open to the public


3 p.m.: Tours of the Food Farm

4:30 p.m.: Hay ride

5 p.m.: Farm games and tomato tasting

6 p.m.: Potluck at the barn

6 p.m.: Sophronia art event by Kathy McTavish and Joellyn Rock