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A wandering house comes to Rochester

The wandering house is part of an ongoing exhibit at the Rochester Art Center to find out what home means to us.

Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo wandering house.jpg
Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo in front of the wandering house, a repurposed ice fishing shanty, that will arrive in Rochester July 6, 2022.
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ROCHESTER — An artist wants to know what people in Rochester think of when they think of home.

For a notoriously transient city, artist Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo is interested in the responses.

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Sotelo is bringing her “wandering house” to Rochester on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, to help her collect those responses.

The refurbished ice fishing house has been turned into a mobile art project and recording studio. People can answer questions and record their thoughts on what home means to them.

Using an ice fishing shanty was a deliberate attempt to connect with Minnesotans, she said. It was also a nod to her home country of Chile. The shanties remind her of homes on Chiloe Island in Chile where small, coastal homes are built on stilts. She painted the shanty colorfully reminiscent of those Chilean homes.

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“But I also wanted to connect it to something that was very Minnesota,” she said.

Sotelo used it for a show in Northfield and an artist in residence stint in Lanesboro in 2019. The responses she gathered at both those places culminated in a show, “Home – exploring, mending, reimagining” which is currently exhibiting at the Rochester Art Center. One is an audio and visual show. The other is a quilt made of embroidered responses.

Other artists embroidered the quilt panels of the Northfield quilt. Sotelo sewed one herself. Other artists and participants did the other panels.

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“I was creating the circumstances to create these things,” Sotelo said.

The final work wasn’t the point, she added.

“If people go to the art center and look at this quilt, they may be entertained a little bit, but I think it’s the process that’s interesting,” Sotelo said.

Sotelo said she wasn’t sure what she would do with the responses as she gathered them. Respondents gave their consent to use their answers anyway.

“People were really generous,” Sotelo said. “Because these could be used to be anything.”

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The project was started after Sotelo interviewed Hispanic immigrants and young skateboarders in Northfield for two film projects.

“In making those two films, I was basically asking how they found a sense of belonging in where they are at,” she said. “I wanted to extend that question to the whole community.”

It made her think about what makes anyone feel welcome and at home and inspired this ongoing project.

What’s the fate of Rochester residents’ thoughts on home? Are they destined for a multimedia show? Another quilt?

“That’s something that’s still kind of in the works,” she said.

The quilt isn’t the point, it’s the process that is. Nonetheless, she plans to do something with the responses.

“It would be really interesting for people who made contributions to hear what the findings are.”

If you go

What: “Home – exploring, mending, reimagining” artist talk and tour.

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When: 11 a.m., Saturday, July 9, 2022.

Where: Rochester Art Center, 30 Civic Center Drive.

Related Topics: ROCHESTERART
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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