Erin Lavelle is taking public art to a new level.
In fact, she’s taking it into the neighborhood and giving it away as part of a public art exchange project she’s calling “Something Good.”
During April and May this year, the Lanesboro Arts Residency program hosted Lavelle as she collected artwork and stories for the project. Over the two months, Lavelle pounded the pavement and met with members of the community to gather the materials she would need for her art. Everywhere she went, she made one request.
“I asked, what’s the most valuable thing you’re willing to part with?” Lavelle said.
The request, she said, is based off the Buddhist philosophy of dana, or giving in the most generous way possible. During her residency, Lavelle asked people to give her items they valued and to share with her the story behind them.
In the end, she collected more than 45 pieces from members of the community.
Now she’s returning to Lanesboro to complete the second half of the exchange by giving those stories and goods back – but to different people.
Lavelle will be setting up shop August 15-18 at the corner of Kenilworth Avenue North and Coffee Street East in downtown Lanesboro, where she’ll match people with the items and stories she was given earlier in the year.
She likes to keep the pop-ups a bit of a mystery, but says people can expect “to have a conversation with me and perhaps be matched with a story that I have collected, and perhaps usher a good into a new future.”
This is Lavelle’s second time curating a public art exchange. She first tested the concept behind “Something Good” in her Minneapolis neighborhood in 2016 and said it was “wildly successful.”
“I don’t know what will happen in Lanesboro,” she admitted, adding that there’s still time to donate if people are interested. “So far, people have been very generous with their time and very interested, and I’m enjoying going to the community and talking about the project.”
The purpose of the exchange, she says, is to promote generosity and listening.
“I think one of the problems in our society is that we want to share, but we don’t want to listen and receive, and we don’t practice that regularly,” she says.
“Something Good” is a little off the beaten track when it comes to the general understanding of public art because the exhibit won’t be a temporary display. Instead, each item will be matched to someone else and given away, along with the story attached to it.
But the temporariness of it is what gets Lavelle excited, as well as the role of the community in creating the exchange. “As an artist, I’m involved in the process of it, but it can’t exist without the audience interacting with me,” she said.
Have a story?
There’s still time to donate. Contact Lanesboro Arts at 507-467-2446 or Erin Lavelle at email@example.com.