My name is Andy Sturdevant, and I am writing to tell you about a community art project I’m organizing at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, called “Alley Atlas.” It opens October 17, but I’m getting started now.
The purpose of “Alley Atlas” is to give an unofficial name to every alley in the city of Minneapolis during the two-and-a-half month run of the show, as chosen by the people who live or work on them. As you may know, alleys—unlike city streets—don’t have official names. What if, instead of naming them for land developers, politicians, or numbers, like our city streets, their names corresponded with our own experiences, memories, and stories?
This project will give Minneapolitans a chance to do just that. Visitors will be asked to select an alley near their homes and give it a name of their choosing. This name will then be added to a floor-to-ceiling map in the MIA galleries of the city’s alleyways, and all the accompanying origin stories will be compiled in a catalogue.
I’m reaching out to all eighty-one neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis to ask for assistance in getting word out to residents and businesses in their parts of the city. We’d love for people to visit the MIA, but they won’t have to in order to participate. We’re taking submissions from all over Minneapolis, online and by mail, too.
There’s an online form at http://www.bit.ly/alleyatlas. Fill it out with some information about your alley, a name, and a backstory, and I’ll add your contribution to the map.
An exhibition at the MAEP Gallery in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, October 17 – December 31, 2013.
Name your Minneapolis alley here.
Alleys are used by neighborhood residents for making shortcuts across town, stowing garbage, fixing cars, playing children’s sidewalk games, and other domestic functions that often happen out of sight. But unlike official city streets, they don’t have names. There’s a vibrancy in these back alleys that pedestrians don’t encounter on the main thoroughfares of Minneapolis.
What if we could name Minneapolis’s alleys? And instead of having them named for land developers, politicians, or in numerical order like our city streets, we could give them names that corresponded with our own experiences, memories, and stories? Andy Sturdevant’s MAEP exhibition “Alley Atlas” is an invitation to name every alley in the city of Minneapolis, as chosen by you, the people that live or work near them every day.
Using the desks and three wall maps in this gallery, visitors are welcome to select an alley near their home or place of work, and give it a name of their choosing using the provided pencils and labels.
As the exhibition continues, the number of contributions will grow and the maps will show how the alleys have their own culture that runs parallel to the already familiar and well-named city streets.
Also on display are some artworks from the MIA’s permanent collection depicting historical alleys, as well as a guidebook on Minneapolis alleys, assembled from newspaper accounts, fiction, the city charter, and other sources.