Art Is: Witt Siasoco
For over 20 years, Siasoco has been actively engaged at the intersection of the arts & civic process. Siasoco was selected as Creative Citymaking artist, a year-long collaboration between artists & City planners. Siasoco was also a MN State Arts Board recipient for the Richfield Artist Residency Engagement.
- Primarily I'm a painter and drawer,
but really my practice is about bringing people together
and engaging with the larger society through my artwork.
So, I really do believe that artists should work
in a traditional sense in painting, drawing,
dance performance but there's also more to that.
Like, artists can offer more art can offer more.
It can really engage people where they're at.
It can really foster conversations
and artists need to be a part of that.
I like working in my studio, but a lot of times
the work that I do is really on the street
and might be in the moment.
I'm Witt Siasoco, I'm a community based artist,
here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
What inspires me and what has always inspired me
is talking to young people
and I love things that I've been doing for a long time,
like skateboarding and art.
The Skate Plaza at Juxtaposition Arts, in North Minneapolis
as something that I'm deeply passionate about
and something that I had a role in developing,
I co-founded an organization called City of Skate.
I've skateboarded all my life and through that,
I've, you know, found all these creative endeavors
and I never thought it would blend together with my art.
And I've known Roger and Deanna,
the founders of Juxtaposition Arts for a long time
and I asked Roger, hey, what do you think
about a skate park in North Minneapolis?
And he was ready and willing because he understands youth
designed spaces are super important.
A lot of times these youth spaces, you know, they exist,
but sometimes they're behind a rec center
or by the police station.
Juxta was brave enough and radical enough
to put it right on the corner,
at the heart of the community and say like,
this is a space that's owned by kids, you know?
So, it's very different.
It's programmed as a multidisciplinary space.
It's not just skateboarding.
So, hopefully, it contributes in a larger way
and not just for skateboarders but for the whole community.
And it will live there for a long time.
So, I'm super proud of that work.
We're at my studio in Northeast Minneapolis.
I've lived in Northeast for over 20 years
and it's great to have a studio space here.
This is a place where I come back,
work on community based projects,
get them ready and get them out.
I'm really excited about this current project
that I'm working on with the City of Minneapolis.
It's for their Public Service Center.
It's a new building that will be in downtown Minneapolis
and they asked several artists to create a graphic
that will be adhered to a window.
It's a window vinyl, but I created a painting
that really evokes what Public Works is about.
The title of this piece is called, "Power and Play".
And I took a lot of tours and stuff of city facilities
and talked to a lot of staff
and, really, they're the invisible structures
that are a part of our city every day
and things that we interact with,
that we might not even notice.
So, I wanted to make light of that
and, actually, show how people interact
directly with Public Works.
The backdrop is about our source of water, the Mississippi.
So, depicted there is, St. Anthony Falls, Spirit Island
and Minnehaha Falls and, also, shows a deeper,
darker history of stolen land.
But on top of that, is really about the ways
that people interact with streetscapes, with water,
with electricity on the daily basis,
it's called, "Power and Play",
so the title evokes those things.
Community and place are important to my work
because that's how I was raised.
I was born of Filipino immigrants in Des Moines, Iowa
and it's a totally white place, seemingly white.
The neighborhood I grew up in was totally mixed race,
that really influenced how I see the world.
And I don't know if everybody sees the world
in that lens anymore, you know, and I want to push for that.
I want to push for greater understanding.
I want to push people to come and talk to one another
and engage with others and people that aren't like them
and understand that we don't all have to be the same.
We can be different and coexist and still get along
and still have a conversation about art.
We can still have a conversation at the skate park
and we can all exist but still have our own identity
and complexity that exists within that.