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Anna Metcalfe: Profile on a Minneapolis Artist

Anna+Metcalf%2C+a+Minneapolis+artist+who%27s+work+is+being+showcased+at+an+exhibit+in+the+Marine+Art+Museum+in+Winona%2C+Minnesota.+The+theme+of+the+exhibit+is+mapping+out+the+Mississippi+River+with+ceramic+cups.
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Anna Metcalfe: Profile on a Minneapolis Artist

Anna Metcalf, a Minneapolis artist who's work is being showcased at an exhibit in the Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota. The theme of the exhibit is mapping out the Mississippi River with ceramic cups.

Anna Metcalf, a Minneapolis artist who's work is being showcased at an exhibit in the Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota. The theme of the exhibit is mapping out the Mississippi River with ceramic cups.

Photo Contributed by Sam Gehrke

Anna Metcalf, a Minneapolis artist who's work is being showcased at an exhibit in the Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota. The theme of the exhibit is mapping out the Mississippi River with ceramic cups.

Photo Contributed by Sam Gehrke

Photo Contributed by Sam Gehrke

Anna Metcalf, a Minneapolis artist who's work is being showcased at an exhibit in the Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota. The theme of the exhibit is mapping out the Mississippi River with ceramic cups.

Ren Gennerman, Features Reporter

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Anna Metcalfe, a Minneapolis-based ceramic and sculpture artist, is visiting the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona to share her artwork, creativity and passion for building human connection.

Metcalfe, who grew up in Virginia, became enamored with water at an early age. When she visited her grandfather, who lived in Mount Sterling, WI, she was entranced by the stories he told about the Mississippi River, as well as the lore surrounding it. However, it was not until her grandfather was sick and bedridden in La Crosse that Metcalfe began to base artwork off it. He asked her to paint him a picture of the river below Granddad Bluff in La Crosse, and though she doesn’t consider herself a painter, she obliged.

Since then, Metcalfe has worked with water and what it means to other people. She realized the most she knew about the Mississippi River was the lore and stories other people told her about it. To understand more about the place she was living, Metcalfe needed to understand the river better. Since then, almost all the time in her studio was spent reflecting on water.

“It became clear to me that the best way to know a place is to hear about it from other people—their stories and experiences especially,” Metcalfe said. “There’s only so much I can learn, but there’s so many experiences and types of stories that help the river become this living entity.”

One of her first projects, which is featured in her Upstream exhibition at the museum, was one she worked on with a group of students. While talking about the water cycle and how humans affect the process, she engaged with her students and asked to hear their stories about their experiences with bodies of water. These stories inspired painted ceramic canoes.

Her latest piece, which is also featured in the museum, is a map of the Mississippi River made with ceramic cups. All the cups have stories on them that were written by other people that Metcalfe wanted to share. She wanted people to sit down, read the cups and share their own stories.

“It occurred to me that one of the most intimate places for storytelling is when people sit down and drink tea or get coffee together,” Metcalfe said. “That’s the forum for a lot of human connection. I wanted to do a project where that concept was in play.”

Connecting with others through creativity has always been an important part of Metcalfe’s work, ever since she attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia. While there, she received a degree in English and fostered a love of reading and stories. She discovered how much she could learn about herself and the human condition through reading, and she wanted to share that passion.

Since then, Metcalfe has become a ceramics and sculpture teacher at the Minneapolis Community Technical College, where she loves to find inspiration and ideas from her students. While she knows not everyone will become an artist, she encourages everyone, especially college students, to take art classes, even if it has nothing to do with their major, as it may help them connect better with others.

Dave Casey, the assistant curator of education and exhibitions, took a special interest in Metcalfe’s work after attending one of her tea conversation events and invited her to put together a show.

After working for over a year to prepare the exhibit, Casey is thrilled to finally see her work in Winona.

“[Metcalfe] has done a lot of community-based work focusing on the waters of Minnesota and beyond,” Casey said. “Her work has been displayed at multiple institutions and has been well received. Her medium, ceramics, is not one that we have had the opportunity to explore too often at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.”

Though Metcalfe wants to do more storytelling and tea conversations in her future, she also wants to make an effort to slow down.

“Deep human connection takes time and sustained effort,” Metcalfe said. “I know it’s a bit counterculture, with the internet and social media always wanting us to be faster and more efficient, but I really want to work with people for a while, hear their stories and connect with them in a deeper, more intimate way.”

Metcalfe wants to eventually work with community groups for a few years at a time. Though she doesn’t know what will come of those connections, she is confident good things will come of them. Metcalfe is also especially excited to be working with her husband, who is a composer, to make some new projects.

Metcalfe’s work will be available in the museum through May 5 of this year. She is also hosting a free gallery walk on Feb. 2 to showcase her art and explain the inspiration behind her work.

About the Writer
Ren Gennerman, Features Reporter

Ren Gennerman works as a features reporter for the Winonan. Before working at the Winonan, Gennerman worked for three years as a reporter and historian...

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