Look for new public art, immigrant stories, on East Seventh Street

Carryon Homes, a public art installation that made its debut in Minneapolis last summer, will spend its summer and fall in Hamm Park off East Seventh Street in Dayton’s Bluff. (photos courtesy of Carryon Homes)

Carryon Homes will be installed May 9 and 10, highlighting immigrant stories in Minnesota.

A new public art installation is coming to Hamm Park May 9 and 10. 

The park, which has undergone some recent “reactivating” by the City of St. Paul, will house the Carryon Homes art installation this summer and fall. 

Carryon Homes made its debut last year in the Commons near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It also spent some time at the Walker Art Center and was a part of the Northern Spark art festival. It consists of a number of narrating elements that tell the story of immigrants here in Minnesota. 

The piece is a collaboration between five artists who are immigrants to the state themselves: Aki Shibata, from Japan; Zoe Cinel, from Italy; Shun Yong, from Malaysia; Preston Drum, from North Carolina; and Peng Wu, from China. 

Carryon Homes originally started as a photo project where immigrants were photographed with an item that they brought with them from home.

The idea expanded to a larger public art structure, which won funding from the Creative City Grant, a public art funding program out of the City of Minneapolis.

In the piece’s first iteration, it contained a number of elements. It had two house-shaped panels that served as walls. One was made up of colorful used suitcases. There were tags where people could write their own stories and attach them to the luggage.

“It was meant to be a blend of textures,” Cinel said, intended to make visitors feel connected to culture.

The other wall had mirrors and photos from the original Carryon Homes photo project. The pictures included QR codes where visitors could use their smartphones to listen to the stories of those in the photographs.

The piece also included a garden bed with herbs and flowers, meant to remind visitors of things in their mother’s kitchen. 

A small stage was set up in front of the wall of suitcases to be used as a public space. The artists and others set up a few organized events, but otherwise left the space to be used by community members in whatever way they saw fit.  

Cinel said the iteration at Hamm Park will be arranged a bit differently. It will still include the two house-shaped panels, she said, as well as the suitcases, photos and stage, but instead of a garden, there will be a table that can be written on with chalk. 

Instead of the mirrors, a mural will be created by a graffiti artist from Indigenous Roots. The photos will feature East Side residents and their stories 

Carryon Homes also received a Community Arts Grant from the Metro Regional Arts Council for a fall art festival to take place at Hamm Park, focused on celebrating the immigrants of the East Side. 

Cinel said the group’s hope is that the piece will serve as a gathering space and connect neighbors. “We hope it’s a place to hangout and learn something about neighbors, friends and the community.”


East Seventh arts corridor

The public art in Hamm Park is just the start of a larger movement to establish East Seventh Street as an arts corridor. 

Mary Anne Quiroz, co-founder of the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, said the center, Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, Metropolitan State University, nonprofits like Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services and businesses like Mananas, are working together to “amplify” the community-building and art-making happenings in the corridor

“We’re trying to spread our roots, share the abundance, activate local businesses,” said Quiroz

She said the process of establishing the street as an arts corridor is in its early offings, but the public art at Hamm Park is a start.

“Nothing is set in stone, this is a very fluid and organic process,” Quiroz said, adding a number of community conversations will be held over the next year about the corridor.

The art at Hamm Park will also be tied into the Art in the Hollow festival being held in Swede Hollow Park on June 1, Quiroz said, with activities happening throughout the day.

The recent reactivating of Hamm Park is a part of the effort as well. 

In 2016, East Seventh and Arcade streets were designated $350,000 through the city’s Commercial Vitality Zone program, funded by a half-local sales tax. Some of those funds covered improvements at the park, which included a new seating/gathering area, additional paths, signage, additional trash bins and the addition of pollinator-friendly gardens planted by Urban Roots. 

Sickly trees were removed and brush along East Seventh was cleared to open up to park.

Pedestrian safety improvements on East Seventh Street also are being planned for this year, including new lighting, curb bumpouts and pedestrian medians to make it easier for people to cross at Greenbrier and Margaret streets. 


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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