Artist Creigh spent considerable time in Pelican Rapids, experiencing the uncommon cultural diversity that exists in the Pelican school and community.

Creigh is pictured here in a Pelican Rapids High School classroom, with Khadar Ibrahim, Cristian Abarca, Axel Zavala, Braulio Villagomez, Farah Hashi, teacher John Peter, Jesus Moreno, Abdifitah Isse, Ahmed Hashi, Katie Martinez, and Julie Perez.
Artist Wesley Fawcett Creigh, with Pelican Rapids High School student Axel Zavala, during a session in teacher Jon Peter’s classroom in spring 2018–as she gathered material for a major exhibit that is opening June 15 at the Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum.
“I believe Pelican Rapids has experienced an influx of cultural growth and change that many other rural communities may undergo at some point in the future or are experiencing currently. Pelican serves as an example of a town committed to rising to the challenges inherent in
diverse communities. I wanted to create an exhibit that features it as a model of community action, education, and strength.”
-Artist Wesley Fawcett Creigh
The exhibit, with its strong
emphasis on Pelican Rapids,
is in conjunction with the
celebration of the 150th
anniversary of the founding
of Otter Tail County, being
held through 2018.

The story of the Pelican Rapids area, from main street to grain elevators to cultural diversity, is being told through a unique art and culture project.

Pelican will play a prominent role in an exhibit at the Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum, June 15 through July 14.

Artist Wesley Fawcett Creigh spent several weeks in the Pelican area last winter. Appropriately, the project was completed during the county’s 150th anniversary year, 2018.

“Celebrate Stories of Friendship and Community in Fergus Falls and Pelican Rapids” is the exhibit.

Wesley’s work focused on telling and contextualizing the experiences of Pelican Rapids and Fergus Falls residents.

The initial phase involved collecting audio interviews with residents that range the spectrums of age, culture, religion, race, and gender, centering these conversations around topics of “home” and “belonging”. This research period yielded a series of two-dimensional “felt paintings” and multi-media installations featuring video and audio.

One such installation, created by ESL students from the Pelican Rapids High School, examines the intersections of “identity” and “place.”

“As this work evolved I became increasingly drawn to the visual contrasts that occur in the Pelican Rapids community: the rural midwest landscape of grain elevators and dairy farms infused with the shelves of the town’s Mexican and Halal markets, multi-ethnic sports teams, smart phones, taco joints, and diversity dinners,” wrote Creigh about her experiences in Pelican.

For the visual components of this project she juxtaposed old symbols of progress with contemporary ones, creating a “hybrid aesthetic” of Pelican Rapids.

Her objective was to contextualize interviews and paint an honest and realistic portrait of the community.

“…Allowing the story of Pelican Rapids to be better understood and appreciated by the surrounding communities.”

This project builds off Creigh’s background as a socially engaged artist.

“I tend to focus on projects with interactive or community components that foster deeper dialogues surrounding social or political issues,” said Creigh.

Creigh spent 6-weeks in Otter Tail County in January and February this year as part of a “Hinge” Artist Residency offered by Springboard for the Arts. The arts organization houses its artists-in-residence in apartments on the Historic Kirkbride Campus in Fergus Falls and provides them with studio spaces and resources to help them carry out community projects.

To learn more about her work visit Creigh’s website: www.wesleyfawcettcreigh.com.

Artist reception is June 15 at Otter Tail County museum

• Art exhibition celebrates stories of friendship and community in Fergus Falls and Pelican Rapids

• Featuring artist Wesley Fawcett Creigh, Springboard for the Arts “Hinge” Artist in Residence, Jan-Feb 2018

• Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum, 1110 W. Lincoln Ave, Fergus Falls, June 15 – July 14

• Opening reception: June 15, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.