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Juana Berrio: Inhabitants in a Parallel Universe

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Local artist Juana Berrio's newest exhibition may feel more like a display from a natural history museum than the average art gallery showing. But instead of investigating plant and animal life, Berrio dives into human nature with "Inhabitants in a Parallel Universe." The name may sound like science fiction, but her subject matter is more grounded in reality and what each of us makes of it.

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According to College of Visual Arts' website, the scenario Berrio presents in her installation is as follows: "Two living American citizens' families have migrated from faraway lands over the last century. One citizen is a descendant of a family of European immigrants; the other comes from a family of immigrants from Africa."

There is a local tie-in as well, as both families have settled in the Twin Cities after escaping a crisis in their homelands. Berrio presents each of the two new citizens' personal belongings, but they are not labeled, leaving it up to exhibition attendees to piece together which items belong to each person. This kind of puzzle is typical of Berrio's work; rather than give answers, she prefers that her pieces pose questions, especially when it comes to an individual's place in society.

"Inhabitants in a Parallel Universe" will be on view at the College of Visual Arts from September 6 through January 6, 2012. There will be an opening reception this Thursday, September 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.