Gossamer Thread comes to Mankato

Interview and Review of Gossamer Thread Exhibition at 410 Project of Mankato, MN.


  • Nov 13, 2015
  • Robb Murray rmurray@mankatofreepress.com

The small quarters of the 410 Project have been inhabited by something quite curious.

Art takes many forms, and the exhibit currently on display at the miss-it-if-you-blink gallery is nothing short of different. From the outside, a passersby will see a chain-link fence with hundreds of strips of red fabric tied to it. It wouldn’t make sense to those who did not step inside to discover the meaning behind the mysterious installation. And that’s just the beginning of the “Gossamer Thread,” an exhibition of work by Nick Rivers.

For Rivers, this exhibit is more than just a display of his work. It’s a representation of community togetherness. The work is inspired by the people of the Pine Ridge reservation and the Wounded Knee Massacre site in South Dakota. “I visited friends in South Dakota, mainly a Lakota elder who spent a lot of time with me and got familiar with the traditions out there,” Rivers said. The work is inspired by the artist's visits to  Pine Ridge, SD and Wounded Knee, SD.

In the gallery, visitors are encouraged to take a strip of red fabric and place it “as they see fit to become a part of the installation process." Long and short strips of fabric already tied onto the chain-link fence have messages written on them — a representation of leaving a mark on the world. Rivers is now looking for the next place to put his project.

Other artifacts Rivers included in the exhibit are broken glass mosaics, milkweed, archive photographs of a snowy landscape, pictures of the people that reside there now, bones from a buffalo and pipestone. “It’s all connected,” Rivers said, “it’s a spiritual notion of all people coming together.” Some of these elements — the milkweed, buffalo bone and pipestone: given to Rivers as a gift — are placed throughout the gallery to form a sense of environment, culture and society.

Rivers explained, The Gossamer Thread is “not meant to be static, but rather to be in constant flux or change.” Hung up on the right side of the first room in 410 Project is a collage of photographs taken on the Pine Ridge reservation. The left wall has Rivers’ unique take on glass work. “There’s some interesting pieces constructed out of safety glass,” River’s said, “I tried to create a delicate balance of different items.” The safety glass pieces are not hung up in traditional fashion; the frames are hung up so the pieces protrude out of the wall. “I’m attracted to it because it deals with light, transparency, brokenness,” Rivers said, “It’s the brokenness that makes the light interesting. Broken elements give us uniqueness and beauty.” It’s all about interpretation, but coming together as a community is primarily what Rivers wants visitors to take away from his work. “I try to really be an advocate toward positions of equity and acceptance, especially because I’m not Lakota,” Rivers stated, “I try to be sensitive to how I position the work. It’s more about positive qualities, good intentions and coming together.” This idea of individuals tying fabric together is really about how we, all of us, are weaving our tapestries of life together. 

“Mitakuye Oyasin translated from Lakota means 'all my relatives,'” Rivers remarked. “We can embrace that as a culture no matter where we come from.”

Robb Murray is the Features Editor for The Free Press. He can be reached at 344-6386 orrmurray@mankatofreepress.com. Follow Robb on Twitter @FreePressRobb