Minnesota Artist, Anne Labovitz, on a Five-Year Mission to Unite Diverse Countries and Culture through Art: Interactive Exhibit, 122 Conversations, Opens in Japan, Nov. 2

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When Minnesota artist, Anne Labovitz opens her exhibit 122 Conversations in Ohara Isumi-City, Japan on Nov. 2 it will mark the fifth country in a multi-year, international tour designed to foster caring as a political act and create positive social change one person at a time.

122 Conversations artist's scrolls

Enormous painted scrolls are the central element of 122 Conversations. Each scroll is part of a diptych inspired by a different international city and is 30 inches wide and up to 33-feet long.

More than ever we need to be reminded and shown ways we can and should come together.

122 Conversations/Person to Person: Art Beyond Borders, an international traveling exhibition by Minnesota native, Anne Labovitz, opens at Isumi City Hall, Ohara Isumi-City, Japan on Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 30.

The exhibit is a five-year cultural-social engagement initiative focusing on the culture and people of Duluth, Minnesota’s Sister Cities (DSCI). The project was envisioned to serve as a catalyst for positive social change one person at a time, according to the artist. The goal of the project – and its multiple international venues – is to serve as a cross-cultural exchange to foster caring as a political act.

“The current political climate both domestically and internationally has become so divisive – even more so than when I first began planning this exhibit in 2013,” stated Labovitz. “More than ever we need to be reminded and shown ways we can and should come together. In 122 Conversations I physically merge the conversations, impressions and ideas of these diverse people and cultures into a united group of paintings and a single exhibit.”

The vibrant painted scrolls that make up the dominant element of the exhibition meld 60 artist-led interviews involving ten residents from each of Duluth’s six sister cities, including the mayor of each city. The large-scale paintings were created by Labovitz in her studio and are inspired by the spirited interview exchanges. The work chronicles the essence of human interaction—listening to each other and responding—through palimpsest (layers and layers of writing and mark making until the original content is obscured) paintings and video created from the shared experiences.

"Throughout Labovitz's career, Anne has demonstrated a growing interest in social-practice art,” said Ken Bloom Director of Tweed Museum of Art, which helped organize the exhibit. “Now, she works to establish an artist-subject relationship that is based on direct engagement in a way that reveals, through her art making, a process of shared discovery.”

Integral to the project are the engagement pieces that give people in each city an opportunity to actively interact with the exhibit – giving them a voice to connect cross-culturally through their artistic contributions. One such activity invites both children and adults in each city to share drawings, words or stories directly on small artworks previously created by the artist. These contributions then travel with the show as it moves from each city onto its culminating venue at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth in September 2018.

The Japan exhibit represents the fifth country in three years for a project that has absorbed much of Labovitz’s time and energy for the last five years.

After two years of planning, 122 Conversations began its international journey to the five sister cities of Duluth, Minn., in September 2015 commencing at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in Canada. From there the exhibit continued on to Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan at the University of Raparin (January 16 - March 31, 2017) and Växjö, Sweden at Växjö Konsthall (March 4 - April 1, 2017). Most recently it was in Petrozavodsk, Russia (May 25 – June 17, 2017). The traveling exhibit will conclude in 2018 with a final exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth, Minn.

122 Conversations: Person to Person | Art Beyond Borders is organized by Tweed Museum of Art and artist Anne Labovitz. “122” honors the total amount of years being celebrated between DSCI and its Sister Cities during the duration of the project, and “Conversations” is inspired by relationships and interactions developed throughout the project. The project is made possible by many generous sponsors: Holiday Inn & Suites Duluth, Minn., Otis Magie Insurance, Security Jewelers, Duluth News Tribune, Visit Duluth, Ohara Ishumi Sister Cities Committee, and more than a thousand individual volunteers and contributors.

For more information, visit http://www.122Conversations.com.


A native of Duluth, Anne Labovitz currently lives and works in St. Paul, Minn. In 2013, she was recognized with Duluth Depot Foundation’s Artist Award as an artist whose distinguished career has made significant contributions to the development of both artists and the arts. In 2015, Labovitz was awarded the key to all six sister cities by Duluth Sister Cities, Intl. for her work in 122 Conversations. Her paintings are part of the permanent collections at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth, Minn., the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, Calif., the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Weisman Art Museum, and the International Gallery of Portrait in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Labovitz is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, an Advisory Board member of The Artist Book Foundation in New York City, and a former member of the Colleagues Advisory Board at the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In August 2017, Labovitz received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Transart Institute, an innovative program based in Berlin and New York. She received her degree in art and art education from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn. In addition, she has trained in studios in Italy, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

Labovitz teaches arts education and conducts artist workshops in both public and private schools and throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul community. She also is active in the Duluth, Minn., art community and metro area.

To learn more about Labovitz and her work visit: http://www.Labovitz.com.

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Jacqueline Hanson
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