Sneakers are the canvas at MN4MN's exhibition

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Look closely! There are sneakers in this work of art.

This Thursday, MN4MN is taking footwear and turning it into a collaboration of design, fashion, and photography at Public Functionary.

The show, titled "The Blank Canvas Exhibition," will showcase 13 pairs of shoes and photography. All participants are from Minnesota.

The project is part of MN4MN's mission to spotlight emerging Minnesota designers, artists, and companies. The organization started after creative director Ini Iyamba took a trip to Montreal Fashion Week in September 2013.

“I walked into a small store in Rue Sainte-Catherine over in Old Montreal, and in that store they had three Minnesota brands,” says Iyamba. 

What he saw inspired him so much that when he returned to Minnesota, he came up with MN4MN. First up, Iyamba and his team of three decided to put on a fashion show in September 2014. They went all out.

“If we're going to do a fashion show, we're going to do a high-level fashion show. High-level production, New York-style,” he says, reflecting on the event.

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With the "Blank Canvas Exhibition," MN4MN has ventured a little deeper into the art world. Iyamba wanted to work with a gallery, and figured all-white high-top PF Flyers would be great to use as a canvas. Eventually, he ended up with 13 artists and 13 photographers who were interested in participating.

One of those artists is Christina Ridolfi, an instructor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She's also helping with the installation of the exhibit. From idea to completion, she was given a two-week window. 

“I was interested in working with [Iyamba],” she says, adding that she was even more excited when he told her about the artist lineup. “I'm always psyched to meet colleagues.”

Other participants include muralist and art activist Ta Coumba-Aiken; painter, illustrator, and photographer Corban Lundborg; and muralist/graffiti artist Yuya Negishi. Photographers involved in the project include Jeff Johnson, Shelly Mosman, and Paul Johnson. What the artists did with their shoes will be shown side-by-side with what the photographers came up with.

Many of these artists have never met, and this Thursday will be first time they see what each other participant produced. Hopefully this will start discussions that bring art and photography worlds together. 

For information on show, visit the MN4MN's "Blank Canvas Exhibition" event page on Facebook here.


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