Press Release: Three Stories from Little America

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program


Posted on January 09, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 25, 2002

Three Stories from Little America Vince Leo

December 20, 2002 – February 9, 2003 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis, Minn.—Minnesota-based artist and writer Vince Leo has photographed his family for nearly thirty years, taking thousands of pictures of his grandparents, parents, sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins. Part documentary, part exploratory photography, more than ninety images are on display in the new exhibition “Three Stories from Little America” at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. On view through February 9, the exhibition tells the story of one Italian-American family’s experience of assimilation over three generations.

“Three Stories from Little America” is divided into three visual narratives beginning with Anna, Leo’s grandmother, who was born in Italy and as a young woman had a vision of Jesus standing in a wheat field. This vision resolved her dilemma about whether she should accept a marriage proposal that would eventually take her overseas to Columbus, Ohio. Anna’s house in America was the first subject of Leo’s investigation of his Italian-American heritage. For example, one image shows Anna holding a prized green pepper from her garden; another captures a picture of Saint Anthony tucked behind a bottle of face lotion on a windowsill revealing Anna’s ties to her Italian and religious roots.

Religious iconography is replaced by the American flag in the next series of images named for Leo’s parents Ernie and Glo, both children of Italian immigrants and yet proud to be from the homeland of their parents’ choosing. The third and final narrative documents the third generation’s experiences of assimilation as represented, for instance, by a Nike swoosh shaved into a young boy’s hair. Leo’s visual record provides an intimate and stirring depiction of the everyday lives of his family, revealing what’s retained and what’s left behind through the generations’ journey in the United States. Many of the images in “Three Stories from Little America” are snapshots similar to those taken around the world on 35mm color film. But here we have the vision of someone who is conscious of the past, present, and future and his ability to capture it through photographic means.

Vince Leo is an artist, writer, and teacher. Currently, he is the chair of Media Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Leo has shown his work in numerous exhibitions, has published many articles, and has received Bush, Jerome, and McKnight fellowship awards.

An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, December 19, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and an artist gallery talk will be held Thursday, January 19, at 7 p.m.

In association with the exhibition, the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program will host a new event series “Trialogue,” designed to bring together critics, artists, and the public in a gallery setting to explore the creative possibilities of criticism. A joint effort between MAEP and the Visual Art Critics Union of Minnesota (“V.A.C.U.M.”), the first “Trialogue” will feature a discussion of “Three Stories from Little America” with visual arts critics Rob Silberman and Ann Klefstad on Thursday, January 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. Museum Hours: Open Sunday, noon–5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday–Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; closed Monday. For additional information, call Visitor and Member Services at (612) 870-3131. “Three Stories from Little America” is presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, an artist-managed curatorial department of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation.