Minneapolis, MN – The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG) opens a new exhibition, Grandma’s Garden, with works from artist Shea Maze which he created during his artist residency with MAAHMG. The exhibition opening reception is October 13, 2023, from 6 – 9 pm at the museum, 1256 Penn Avenue N., Minneapolis, which is free and open to the public. There is free parking in the ramp attached to the building.
The exhibition features sculptures and works of art created by Maze using gourds from his grandma’s garden that he found dried, cured, and stored in her garage. Maze has meticulously cut, sanded, shaped, broken and mended the gourds to accentuate their natural beauty and create unique works of art that represent his family history. The sculptures are dyed using plants, flowers and roots from the garden, and pigments from his grandma’s natural dye vats that have been collected over the decades.
Gourds are among the oldest cultivated plants that have been used by people all over the world. The plant is native to Africa and remains an integral part of many African homes. Gourds have been used as water bottles, utensils, storage containers, dippers, bowls, vases, and musical instruments. Maze said his exhibition embodies the spirit of Sankofa, a word from the Akan people in Ghana that means “go back and get it.” People cannot move forward without first reflecting on their past, understanding it, and embracing the joy and the struggle. Maze remembers walking through his grandma’s garden as a child where he had to duck and high step over her precious gourds as he tried to carefully respect the life of the garden in her South Minneapolis backyard. In the exhibition, Grandma’s Garden, the gourds of Maze’s past have reconnected him with his grandma, and the gourds’ new shapes and purpose signal a
new beginning. The exhibition reaches back to the soil where Maze was nurtured growing up and reminds him of what was at risk of being forgotten. At the opening reception, there also will be appetizers catered by Maze and Konjo treats (the culinary team at PF Cafe) including homegrown elements so people can also experience Grandma’s Garden through taste. This exhibition is an homage to his grandma. Maze says “This Garden isn’t just a physical location; it is a manifestation of your nurturing presence in this life. The Garden is you.”
Maze is one of four 2023 MAAHMG Artist In Residence. Other artists in the program are Donna Ray, Azania Tripp and Nikki McComb. Each artist received a $12,000 stipend for supplies, materials, research, design and other activities or items necessary to create new works during the residency. The Artist In Residence program is designed to give support, opportunity and exposure to Black artists working in Minnesota to create new works exploring Black history, art and culture. Funding for the program was provided by a grant from the McKnight Foundation. Grandma’s Garden exhibition is on display October 10 (preview) through December 2, 2023.