Transcript for Perspectives on Art at the Minnesota State Capitol

Perspectives on Art at the Minnesota State Capitol

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Erika Doss, PhD, Professor, University of Notre Dame: It's an interesting scenario here in that you have a building that's been refurbished and you've got artwork that was specifically made for this building, but nevertheless times have changed, attitudes have changed, and so a lot of the paintings that are on display in the Capitol are found offensive.

Annette Atkins, PhD, Historian: Historians are often involved in and pulled between two poles. One is to celebrate the past and the other is to ask about it and to raise questions about it. And I think that we have a duty to raise questions.

Jan Klein, Settler Descendant: We can't squash history and we can't sanitize it and we can't censor it. It's, it happened.

James Nottage, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art: I think it's okay to appreciate that art for what it meant in its own time and I think it's okay to, if even to admire the skills of those people who created it. That's the sort of visual memory of, of one culture. But let's keep in mind that there's a visual and an oral memory of those who have not been a part of that.

Gwen Westerman, PhD, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Professor, Minnesota State University-Mankato: Remember that this is the people's house and the people of Minnesota have changed since 1905.

Anton Treuer, PhD, Ojibwe, Professor, Bemidji State University: There is a documented human history that goes 11,000 years in Minnesota and we start the history with the arrival of the first white guy and we celebrate the suppression of indigenous peoples as the definition of progress. And I realize there are multiple perspectives and there should be room to explore those multiple perspectives.

Rep. Dean Urdahl, Republic- Grove City: I don't like changes in history and the way history is depicted. However, as we go through this process, I came to the feeling that the artwork in the Capitol, certainly the existing art, we can do a better job of interpreting. We can do a better job of educating people.

Darlene St. Clair, Lower Sioux Indian Community, Associate Professor, St. Cloud State University: If this is something that as citizens of Minnesota that we share, both in ownership and in responsibility, we invest in protecting it. But we also invest in making sure that, as sort of a symbol, that it's really representing us all to the best of its ability.

Rep. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Democrat- St. Louis Park: I look forward to being able to have more artwork in the Capitol that is done by contemporary Native artists, that is telling the whole story of who we are as Indian people: our history, but also where we're going.

Syd Beane, Flandreau Santee Sioux, Educator and Community Organizer: The primary narratives have to be about reconciliation. You know, otherwise you're continuing to tear people apart and history today tends to reflect that. Wars don't seem to ever end. The primary narrative seems to be war so we're always at war with ourselves and with each other. We have to move beyond that.

Gwen Westerman: When the art reflects the people of Minnesota, then I think everything else is going to follow because it's important that our stories are there and that our stories are there in all their varieties because the more perspectives we have about who we are as Minnesotans, the fuller picture we'll have of what it means to be a part of history, a part of a community that values everyone's voices.