410 Project art show sheds a light on local talent

Spring has finally sprung in Mankato, and with it comes another art installation at the 410 Project, a nonprofit focused on showcasing local artists. 

On the roster this week is Dana Sikkila, executive director of the 410 Project’s Community Art Space.

Sikkila’s artistic portfolio spans many topics and many mediums, from printmaking and mental health to sculpture and social activism. Although she has many connections in southern Minnesota, Sikkila’s works have been viewed and appreciated all across the state, such as the Minnesota Museum of American Art and the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Sikkila’s work as a creative leader has also earned her many accolades, such as the “Outstanding Women in Business”award from the Mankato Free Press in 2016, 2015 Mankato’s YWCA Young Woman of Distinction, and 2015-2016 Art Educators of Minnesota “Distinguished Service Outside the Field” Recognition.

Sikkila’s life wasn’t always abundant with the arts, however. Growing up as a farm kid in a rural town, opportunities for creative expression could be few and far between.

“Back then, in those rural communities, there wasn’t a whole lot of arts and culture. I grew up working on cars and building things out of wood, because that’s what you did in the country,” Sikkila said.

It wasn’t until college when Sikkila was introduced to the arts on a first-name basis, and fell in love with it. Her passion for art eventually blossomed into a Master’s Degree in art, a job as an art educator on campus at Minnesota State, and an executive position with the 410 to showcase more local artwork.

“The Moving Light”, Sikkila’s art collection, specifically showcases her experiences navigating life as a woman in a man’s world, frequently with the use of insect imagery, such as butterflies or bees. Despite the innocent appearance of the imagery, the symbolism retains a much deeper impact.

“I use the imagery of the moth in my work a lot, that holds the symbolism of the mysterious or unseen. Butterflies and bees symbolize the transitioners and the makers, and that’s how I see myself. It’s cutesy images when you first look at them, and then you start to dissect them,” Sikkila said.

The art collection is a multimedia project, with printmaking, painting and mixed media all incorporated. Printmaking is a personal favorite for Sikkila. According to her, utilizing printmaking as an artistic medium opens the doors to reams of self expression.

“That idea of being able to repeat, get obsessive, printing, printing, printing. (It’s) the obsessiveness of anxiety, the constant internal in your head, no stopping point. So I think that the process of having the neverending endpoint can also tie together to the concepts of my work,” Sikkila said.

The art exhibition “The Moving Light” is up now for viewing at the 410 Project, and is available until April 15.

Header Photo: “The Moving Light,” Dana Sikkila’s most recent art exhibition, is far from the first time she’s worked with the 410 Project. Sikkila has been working as the Executive Director of the 410’s Community Art Space for years. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Joey Erickson at joseph.erickson.2@mnsu.edu

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