"Postville: Games, Apparitions & Mementos"

Felted Images by Lana Suomala
Drawings and Painting by Craig Ede
Center for Faith and Life
October 23 - December 6

Lana Suomala 

Lana Suomala works as a secondary Spanish teacher at Frazee High School in Frazee, Minnesota where her emphasis is on creating “meaningful cultural experiences through authentic material, field trips and guests.” She has extended her work beyond the classroom through over 2000 hours of community and volunteer service with the Heritage Hjemkomst Scandinavian Festival; the Regional High School Visual Arts Festival; the Plains Art Museum; Lutheran Social Services Refugee Resettlement Program; and the YWCA Women’s Shelter.

“I am a Spanish teacher and artist living in Moorhead, Minnesota. Being appalled by the actions taken by our government during the Postville Raid of May 12, 2008, I have been following its aftermath closely. I would like to bring Postville to the world and help others hear the voice and see the face of those individuals affected by this tragic event. I’m also an advocate for immigration reform and for the humane treatment of all people—especially the poorest of our world. I strongly believe that we must see beyond borders and realize that our destinies are entwined in many ways.”

-Lana Suomala

Suomala holds a bachelor of arts in Spanish and a bachelor of science in Secondary Education from Moorhead State University of Minnesota. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts program with Hispanic Studies Emphasis at the same institution.

Artist's Statement

"Postville Loteria is based on the popular game of chance often referred to as Mexican Bingo. There are 36 images that are inspired by the lives and stories of immigrants, especially those involved in the Postville Raid. The 36 images are divided into the following four categories, each with nine images: Children of Poverty; The Journey; The Raid; Connections.

Each image is hand-sewn with scraps of felt and is 9" x 12” in size. I chose to use felt as a medium for a variety of reasons. The felt pieces seem to have a profound impact on the viewer. Felt is a material associated with childhood projects. It comes in vibrant and appealing colors and has an inviting texture. The viewer anticipates pleasant images and is shocked by the harsh realities conveyed. Also, the time-consuming nature of sewing by hand allowed me to reflect on the circumstances and subjects which inspired each piece and connects with the crafts that originate from Guatemala and Mexico. So many women in the world make beautiful pieces coveted by collectors and tourists, yet they are so often unable to support themselves and their families with the proceeds from the sale of their crafts.

Postville Loteria is a visual arts series which has been converted into the game itself. It is meant to be viewed as well as played, allowing the viewer to interact with the art. The game consists of 36 image cards and several game boards arranged randomly in a pattern of 3 x 3. It is played much like the game of Bingo. A caller calls out the name of the image—often followed by a riddle or a rhyme–and the players mark that piece on their board with a bean or bottle cap. The first player to make the predetermined pattern (3 across, black-out, etc.) calls out 'Loteria!' and wins the game."

-Lana Suomala

Craig Ede

Craig Ede earned his B.F.A. at the University of Minnesota and his M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ede cites college art teachers Roy Behrens, Adolph Rosenblatt, Steve Samerjan, and Danny Pierce as important people in his artistic development. He also noted being influenced by the following artists: Hokusai, Alberto Giacometti, Lovis Corinth, Thomas Eakins, and Richard Diebenkorn.

Ede has been a professional artist since 1984, producing primarily paintings, drawings and prints. He has also worked independently as a visual design consultant, with a major client as the Medtronic corporation. He has served as a visiting assistant professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and also the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Other teaching experience includes the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Bloomington (Minn.) Art Center; the Museum of American Art; and Northeast Iowa Community College.

His work has been exhibited in many states in the U.S. and a number of countries internationally since 1981, including the Peninsula Art School in Door County, Wisconsin; the Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, Wisconsin; the Bloomington Art Center, Bloomington, Minnesota; and the Focus Gallery, Department of Art, University of Florida. He has also participated in both the NE Minneapolis Art Crawl and the Lowertown St. Paul Art Crawl when he was in residence at those locations. His work can be found in the Wustum Museum of Art, Racine, Wisconsin and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama. On four different occasions he has had illustrations published in the North American Review.

Artist's Statement

“Part of the reason for these images was the urge to create a record of people affected by the Postville raid. In that sense they are meant to give the people represented a way to say, ‘Look! That is me. I was there.’

But drawing has a completely different non-representational function as well. Within drawings, marks made on a surface begin to talk to one another and make rhymes, rhythms and dissonances. This conversation between the marks works to create impressions that can indicate the gamut of human experience. Some drawings are highly intellectual, like architectural drawings. Others are very intuitive, as are many drawings by children that are done after an encounter with a strong sensory experience.

My hope is that these drawings communicate both intuitively and intellectually a sense of my experience in contemplating these unique people. Many of these drawings were cut out of my sketchbooks. Each drawing is the record of a specific encounter with a subject. The tracks of the movement of the pencil on the page are the footprints of that encounter.

The placement of the forms on the sheet was (and is) always a critical concern for me since composition is a fundamental and major part of the emotional tenor of a work of art. Visual art takes place on a playing field that has specific boundaries, and in these works the boundaries of the images were highly considered. A special note: Many thanks to the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Postville for giving me the use of a room within the church complex for drawing people. Without their generous support many of these drawings would not have been possible.”

-Craig Ede

2009-2010 Lana Sumala and Craig Ede