Still Life Wrought Anew

U of M professor Tamsie Ringler’s work in the Mia’s U.S. Bank Gallery

By: Natalia Poteryakhin


Walking in, I squint. Headlights blare from a car painted entirely gold, the light escaping its metallic shell. Known for her work with cast iron, Tamsie Ringler exhibits a range of pieces brought together under the title of “Still Life,” on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art through February 24. Her sculptures bring the conventions of still-life paintings into the real world: where once natural objects (like the usual bowls of fruit) would be immortalized in paint and prevented from decay, Ringler takes an object like a canoe or a car and preserves it in gold. Expanding on this theme, her casting of the Mississippi's many branching waterways continues the trend of transforming organic into inorganic, the fragile into immortal. 


Illustration by Selena Philaphandeth

Illustration by Selena Philaphandeth

But this sounds more pretentious than it is. The exhibit is refreshingly simple, curated without much interjection from the curator and without force-fed opinion. It opens with a simple tableau of the artist’s statement, and otherwise allows you to take in these everyday things granted an ethereal quality in one way or another. The grand finale is a gazebo of sorts, a glass construction filled with hundreds of small beads inviting you in to walk around on their unique surface. It’s an adult ball pit! The experience is extra magical because of a projected colorful light on the gazebo’s back wall, reflecting off the many facets of glass surrounding you. 


The U.S. Bank Gallery is putting on this exhibit as one of many in a chain of local artists, maintaining a space for Minnesotan voices amidst the ancient pottery and flashy travelling exhibits. In a time of endangered natural spaces, Ringler’s work expands our awareness of the environment as well as the human response to its fragility. See it before it closes February 24th.

Wake Mag