The Great MN Get-Together (ie MN State Fair) is starting soon. I can't give you a sneak peak of the sculpture yet (I haven't even seen the final product), but here's the text for the artist's interpretive panel:
Commissioned by Minnesota DNR as a tribute to 75,000 volunteers who have removed over five million pounds of rubbish from Minnesota’s public waters since 1989.
Sculptor Rabi Sanfo has combined artistic talent with technical and engineering skills, and has received high praise at recent sculpture contests. He has participated in exhibitions around Minnesota as well as Chicago, Illinois. One of his pieces has even found its way to India. As Rabi has described his work, “By the magic of bending, grinding and welding, I try to give inspirations a form, an expression and a touch of life so when I get lost in deep contemplation, I feel like they are living.” Rabi has described this year’s sculpture as follows:
“During the Great Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup (June 12, 2008), many people cleaned the river as a community. Cleaning the Mississippi riverbank in Lilydale, near downtown Saint Paul, my group removed a rusting, half-buried wheelbarrow. It reminded me of an ant’s head. Underneath the piece there were ants. At this point, I knew I would be creating an ant for my sculpture. I chose every piece after I found the wheelbarrow to help build the ant, including a gas cylinder and a steel pot. Ants live in community and build everything in this community in an organized way. If people did the same, the environment would be better.”
“When these pieces are garbage along the river, people don’t’ like them. Once you put them together and create something, people like them. In my home country of Burkina Faso (West Africa), people do not throw things away. They always try to find a way to repair items or they transform them into other useable objects. They reuse everything, down to nails and screws. This has inspired me to do found-object art here in the United States, combined with my metal sculptures. When I create found object art, I talk to the parts and tell them that I am giving them a new life, a life where people are going to like them, instead of having them sit somewhere in a landfill or on a riverbank.”
The materials for this work, except for the supporting structure, have been gathered from rubbish removed both in the riverboat cleanup and a large flood plain cleanup in Belle Plaine, along the Minnesota River (southwest of the metro area).