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.

AIRED: November 12, 2020 | 0:05:15

(upbeat music)

- 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.

(cheerful music)

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.

(cheerful music)

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.

(upbeat music)

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.


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