The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 20, 2014

Step inside: 410 director creates installation exhibit at Emy Frentz Gallery

410 director creates installation exhibit at Emy Frentz Gallery

By Tanner Kent
tkent@mankatofreepress.com

---- — Somewhere in the midst of the 10-foot wooden frames, chicken wire, fabric, various fasteners and several plastic totes full of props and supplies, the artist is wielding a power drill.

Dana Sikkila, director of the 410 Project art gallery and the one who is turning the Emy Frentz Gallery into her "Teddy Bears and Teeth" installation exhibit, is fastening pieces of lumber together to create a faux wall. Scattered around her are a bed frame, headboard and footboard — which, when taken with the walls, will transform the gallery into a bedroom-themed diorama of obsession and escapism.

Visitors will enter the gallery through a set of progressively smaller wooden frames, each draped in fabric and adorned with pop art prints of birds, fish and butterflies. The construction allows only one person to enter the space at a time, lending an immediate sense of intimacy and privacy.

Once inside, visitors will find a bedroom scene, including bed, endtable and wall art. Endlessly looping on the TV is a video Sikkila made of herself making cupcakes, about 200 of which which will also be tucked throughout the room. The lighting in the room will enhance the smell of baked sugar from the frosting while a soundtrack of female-led showtunes and "old-timey" music plays in the background, further ensconcing visitors in the experience.

"It's going to be elaborate and multi-layered," Sikkila said. "People will have to engage numerous senses."

Sikkila's installation will be unveiled during tonight's reception at the gallery and remain on display through April 16.

The goal, she said, is to explore the obsessions, compulsions, and repetitious tasks that insulate individuals from harsher realities. Within her installation, visitors will find references to pets, material consumption, fantasy and over-consumption.

Sikkila's past work, including prints and installations elsewhere, has often employed repetitious imagery. She said this installation, however, pushes that repetition to a deeper level by grounding it in a more personal and recognizable space.

"It's all about reconstructing the space into something that's more familiar to all of us," she said. "This is definitely more sculptural than my other work."

Sikkila has been preparing for this installation for months.

She salvaged elements from previous projects, including her last installation project at the Verizon Wireless Center in December, and purchased what she couldn't find. She moved all the furniture to the sides of her house to accommodate the extensive pre-fabrication required for the exhibit.

She began the installation Tuesday morning with the help of her family and a few friends. And though she had a clear artistic vision, the established printmaker said the nature of installation art demands adaptation as well as ability to work in several mediums.

"You have to be good at problem solving and thinking on your feet," said Sikkila, whose first hurdle for the exhibit was creating the large faux walls, a necessity since the gallery does now allow objects directly mounted to the wall."I have a layout, but once you get into the gallery, you know it's going to change.

If You Go What "Teddy Bears and Teeth," installation by Dana Sikkila When Opens today; on display through April 16 Where Emy Frentz Gallery at Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, 523 S. Second St. Reception 5-8 p.m. today at the gallery; Sikkila giving artist talk around 6 p.m.