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Pairing up at dusk: Wing’s images and St. Kate’s music

St. Kates Assistant Professor Allison Adrian with photographer Wing Young Huie.
St. Kates Assistant Professor Allison Adrian with photographer Wing Young Huie.
Kristie Tigges

No two images are alike. There are people of all ages, races and occupations. There are men in prayer and women crossing the street; little children bundled up against the cold. Some are holding chalkboards with answers to questions photographer Wing Young Huie has asked them.

From Sept. 9–30, St. Catherine University will mount nightly projections of these striking and curious images at The O’Shaughnessy beginning at dusk, around 7:45 p.m. The 90-minute show — projected onto the two large windows (roughly six-feet tall by eight-feet wide) above the auditorium’s main doors — will be accompanied by music composed or performed by St. Kate’s students, faculty, staff and alums.

The free event is an offshoot of Wing Young Huie’s “University Avenue Project: The Language of Urbanism, a Six-Mile Photographic Inquiry,” which includes still photos in 70 storefront windows and on buildings along that bustling street — from the State Capitol in downtown St. Paul to the KSTP tower near Highway 280.

Wing, a native of Duluth, Minn., has received international acclaim for his projects documenting the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic communities of his home state. His best-known work is "Lake Street USA."

“We’re doing this in preparation for his Core Convocation presentation at The O’Shaughnessy on September 30,” says Allison Adrian, an ethnomusicologist and assistant professor in St. Kate's music department. (Wing will speak about "Identity and the Minnesotan Landscape" that day at 7 p.m.)

“The nightly projections will be a retrospective of all of Wing’s work, featuring images from neighborhoods in our backyard such as Frogtown and Lake Street,” she adds. “But we’ll have largely images from the University Avenue Project.”

Over the summer, Adrian put a call out to the St. Kate’s community for music to run with the projections. She has received CDs and mp3 recordings from numerous people, including the University's Women’s Choir and an alumna from China, that range from spoken word to indie rock.

“With music, you run the risk of telling people how to feel,” she says. “We’re used to this as viewers watching films; for example, music swells as the kiss happens. For this project at St. Kate’s, we don’t want to tell you what to feel or how to react. We want you to have your own reactions.”

According to Wing, “the best photos suggest ambiguities of life, allowing space for interpretations.”

Wing’s questions
In some of Wing’s photos, people are holding small chalkboards with a word or a sentence. These are replies to one of the following questions:

  • What are you?
  • How do you define yourself?
  • How do you think others see you?
  • What don't they see?
  • Describe an incident that changed you?
  • What advice would you give a stranger?
  • What do you think about race?
  • What is your favorite word?

St. Kate's nightly projections of Wing's images will begin at dusk — roughly 7:45 p.m.

Sep. 7, 2010 by Pauline Oo

See also: Arts, Faculty, Social Justice, Students