On Jan. 7, 2022, local Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) introduced a new photography exhibit by Eric Mueller, a photographer, artist, and teacher based in Minneapolis. The project, “Reset: 2021,” features 365 photos from each of the 365 days of 2021.
During the perplexing and tiresome year that was 2020, Eric Mueller found himself not making time to take his usual number of photographs because of the prevailing pandemic. Being creative in such an unprecedented and fearful time did not come to mind as much as it would in a “normal” year.
This is where the idea of “Reset: 2021” came to life. Mueller set out to take a photo every day of 2021, with the only rule being that each photo had to be taken the day of, meaning there would be no working ahead. The project showed to be beneficial, both creatively and mentally.
“It has shown me that even though I can’t control the world, I can take charge of a little piece of it, one photo at a time,” Mueller stated on his website.
Jon Swanson, the curator of collections and exhibitions at the MMAM since 2006, expressed how unique Mueller’s exhibit is in how soon after completion it was presented.
“Well, I think it’s unusual, because [Mueller] literally finished shooting and two days later I was hanging the last works from those days,” Swanson stated. “It’s straight from the camera onto the gallery wall.”
“Reset: 2021” features a variety of photographs, ranging from still shots to landscapes, architecture, nature and everything in between. Some of the photographs look like abstract paintings, and others present nature so vividly it is as though feels like one you could step right into the frame.
Although the MMAM does not present all 365 photos Mueller shot, each photograph has its own story while simultaneously displaying a much larger narrative of the year as a whole. The selection of photos range in season and subject, making each snapshot of time a refreshing and thought-provoking experience.
“[Mueller] is extraordinarily talented and has an absolutely really good eye for composition and color,” Swanson said.
Mueller became a full-time photographer in 2014 after working as a filmmaker and producer in the Twin Cities for 25 years. His work is now featured in various museums, and has won awards from American Photography, The Photo Review, and others. To read more about Mueller and his work, see you can go to his website at www.ericmuellerphotography.com.
Being native to Minnesota, much of Mueller’s work is of his home state.
“His subject really is Minnesota,” Swanson said. “So there are landmarks that people are familiar with; it’s very accessible, but they’re shown in a flourishing way and in his style.”
The MMAM also integrated an element of audience participation in their exhibit. On the MMAM website, anyone can submit a photo and description of something that has helped them “reset” after 2020. This uplifting slideshow placed in Mueller’s exhibit provides a sense of community and similarity; it shows that in an unforeseen and confusing place in time, many individuals were still able to find their own sense of peace.
Mueller’s photos hold a sense of lightheartedness, as each photo displays a positive moment from each day of last year. Although each photo is truly beautiful individually, the true whimsicality of this project is found when viewing photo after photo of cityscapes, winter scenes, and peaceful moments.
“[Mueller] used this process to kind of reset his mind, reset his body, reset his artistic practice,” Swanson said. “And in that there’s a little bit of hope, and a little bit of light.”
The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday admission is free for students. Eric Mueller’s “Reset: 2021” will be viewable in person at the Museum or on the MMAM website until May 1, 2022. Visitors are encouraged to share photos of the exhibit or their own reset photos with the hashtag ‘#reset2021’.