Jan 21, 2023 - Things to Do

How a Minneapolis Art Shanty is born

A large, tube shaped parka.

An early mockup of Ripple and its seven layers vs. the finished project, all sealed up. Photos courtesy of Janet Groenert.

The Art Shanty Projects may have moved off the ice this year, but the annual "village" of interactive art projects and experimental performances is ready to kick off its four weekends of fun today.

In celebration of the launch, I went behind the scenes with Janet Groenert, an Art Shanty regular who's been creating projects for over a decade.

  • Here's what she had to say about her latest creation: "Ripple," a 6-foot-tall explorable parka.

Uh, what's an "explorable parka?": Picture a giant bullet-shaped Russian nesting doll. Instead of the doll breaking apart in halves, this project is disassembled by removing seven "layers" β€” like taking off coats, Groenert explained.

  • The exterior layer is a bright red parka with pockets full of treasure (including fake fish); another is made of wooden dowels and reminiscent of an ice fishing bait cage.
  • Every layer has something to do with winter, whether explicitly stated or vaguely interpreted.

How it happened: Groenert was inspired by news stories about dealing with climate change and the "ripple" its effects have on the environment.

  • "I wanted to make a physical form that shows how all of these things are so closely related to each other," she told me.
  • She debuted a smaller version at last year's event, which took around five months to build, then spent a few more months making additional layers for 2023.

How it gets there: After the parka's layers are taken apart, they are hauled in a truck or van to Lake Harriet. Putting it back together requires multiple hands on deck.

What's next: "Ripple" will be dissected by visitors over and over again for the next three weekends, but Groenert is there to reassemble it each time β€” and make any minor fixes.

  • "I just want to make sure it stays together until the next day," she added.

πŸ“Visit: 4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy, Minneapolis. Open weekends from Jan. 21 to Feb. 12.

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