Sam Durant

Garden Project

Sam Durant has been interested in Native American history and politics since he was a young boy growing up in Boston, so it was no surprise when he decided to focus his residency project on that specific Twin Cities community. The American Indian Movement (AIM), a civil-rights group, was founded in Minneapolis, and helped spark the creation of public charter schools dedicated to teaching Native American history and culture. One of those, the Heart of the Earth Survival Charter School in Minneapolis, was the first school approached by Durant, who wanted to record the voices, thoughts, and rhythms of Native American youths. The artist also worked closely with media students at the Four Directions Charter School in North Minneapolis.

Rather than simply taking a reverential stance toward the past, Durant used a simple microphone to capture and amplify the powerful contemporary voices of an often-invisible population. The students shared their rapping skills, poetry, and traditional folktales as well as their thoughts about contemporary issues such as the joys of basketball and the negative impact of drug addiction, alcoholism, and prison time. Behind this raw sound, Durant added pulsing beats like those heard on many of the radio stations popular with teens. He also captured the spirit of the past as it lives in the present during powerful drumming sessions at the Heart of the Earth and the Little Earth Community Powwow. These segments serve as regular punctuation on the projectís resulting thirty-minute soundscape, which sonically enveloped Durantís sculpture Direction through Indirection (Bronze Version) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. . . .