The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 16, 2012

'We remember those': Gustavus art exhibit explores impacts of 1862 mass execution



In an eloquent essay she penned for the exhibit, she continues:

“We share this date in our history, yet the legacy of its impact on us is as diverse, as present, and sometimes as absent as the stars we are able to see in the sky. In the bright light of day, we see only one star, our sun, but that does not mean the other stars are gone. When the sun sets, we can see them again. Even at night, though the bright lights of a city can obscure those stars in the sky, it does not mean they are gone. At a distance from those cities, even just a few miles, our sky is filled again with stars. It is our point of reference that obscures or clears our vision.”

Westerman further contributed a pair of quilts and an installation for the exhibit.

One of her quilts, “Mitakuye Owas (All My Relations),” features a vivid, multi-colored starburst surrounded by glass beads and Swarovski crystals that represent constellations. Her installation is comprised of four fabric panels -- arranged in a square to recall the configuration of the Mankato gallows -- suspended from the ceiling.

“She’s not only an artist, but a scholar,” said Don Myers, Hillstrom director, adding that Westerman’s advice and insight were invaluable during the six-year preparation for the exhibit. “I’m so pleased she was willing to be involved.”

Janice Albro is pleased, too.

The Bartlesville, Okla., painter and sculptor already has contributed one piece of art to this year’s commemorative dialogue. Her large-scale sculpture “Giving Thanks,” which depicts a warrior praying to the Creator with his pipe, was included in Mankato’s CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour.

Though she had traveled through Mankato before, she had never stayed for any length of time until she arrived this year for the installation of her sculpture. She said the experience prompted a spring of emotion that bubbled once again when she was asked to contribute pieces to the Hillstrom exhibit.

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