Daniel Minter in the PMA Biennal
Maine artist Daniel Minter's deeply spiritual piece tells his personal story as well as an overarching narrative of the black experience in America.
The following is sourced from an article in the Portland Press Herald, written by Bob Keyes.
The artwork of Daniel Minter, Assistant Instructor of Illustration at MECA, is a study of memory and the many ways in which memory is embedded in our past, present, and future. Using archetypes, symbols, icons, and folklore steeped in the context of African‐American and African‐ Diaspora culture, Minter creates a visual vocabulary. Metaphors take shape out of chairs, houses, snakes, and trees, infusing the energy of emotion, action, and place to everyday life and being.
“More than he is a painter or a sculptor, Daniel Minter is a storyteller, and at no time has he told his story more clearly, forcefully and thoughtfully than in his installation, A Distant Holla, that is part of the Portland Museum of Art 2018 Biennial.”
“The installation was inspired by a dream Minter experienced in the 1980s, when he lived in Atlanta. The artist, who now lives in Portland, revisits the dream in A Distant Holla, a deeply spiritual piece of art that tells Minter’s personal story as well as an overarching narrative of the black experience in America. It’s the second time he’s shown an iteration of this piece in Maine. He introduced it in spring 2016 at the Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland, in a community exhibition with other artists of color from Maine. He has since shown a version of it in New Orleans, as well.”
“It’s become the most talked-about piece in the biennial, which is on view through June 3, 2018. A Distant Holla dominates the gallery, filling a wall and demanding attention. To understand the piece – to unearth its details and discover its layers – one must spend time reading it, almost like a book. It’s psychologically heavy and takes time to process.”
“The bieniial show is about diversity, inclusion and the zeitgeist of America circa 2018, which translates into tension, turmoil and tumult for those on the losing side of oppression. Minter, who is African-American, makes art that is spiritual and symbolic, reflective of his community in Maine and the echoes of his personal and wider cultural past.”
Born in Ellaville, a small rural community in southern Georgia, Daniel Minter has illustrated nine children’s books, including Ellen’s Broom, written by Kelly Starling Lyons, Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis, and The Riches of Oseola McCartyby Evelyn Coleman. Minter’s paintings and sculptures have also been exhibited internationally at galleries and museums including the Seattle Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, Bates College, Hammonds House Museum, and the Meridian International Center.
Other MECA community artists included in the 10th PMA Biennial, guest curated by Nat May this year, are Gina Adams ’02, Stephen Benenson (Adjunct Instructor of Foundation), Anne BuckwalterMFA ’12, Jenny McGee Dougherty ’05, David Driskell Hon. DFA ’96, and Joshua Reiman (Assistant Professor of Sculpture and MFA).
Header: Photos of Minter and his artwork by Ben McCanna