Lynden Sculpture Garden presents Daniel Minter: Rootwork

September 9, 2021

Photos by Yvonne Kemp

The Lynden Sculpture Garden welcomed Daniel Minter for his second Call & Response residency with an artist reception on Saturday, July 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. His exhibition, Rootwork, will be on view in the gallery. Earlier in the day, from 10 am-1 pm, Minter offered a public carving workshop as part of his residency project. The exhibition remains on view through September 26, 2021. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 West Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, WI 53217. Gallery hours are daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Thursdays. Masks are required in the house.

More information on the exhibition:

A virtual exhibition will be posted shortly.

More information on the workshop:

More information on the residency:

In the Healing Language of Trees brings Daniel Minter to Lynden for multiple residencies across two summers to engage the communities we serve in “a natural act of transformation restructured for curing many ills.” Minter’s original idea—to bring his wood-carving skills to bear on the deadly impact of emerald ash borer on our trees—was complicated by the pandemic. Drawing on traditions of the African Diaspora, and invoking axé, the “spiritual force that resides in all living things,” Minter envisions an ash trunk adorned with necklaces of large, hand-carved wooden beads created in collaboration with community members, including those already engaged in our Call & Response and HOME refugee programming. During his first two residencies, Minter has been working with members of the HOME Steering Committee, Lynden’s Innovative Educators Institute, our campers (including those in our collaborative camp with Walker’s Point Center for the Arts), and the public to create personal symbols and to teach participants different aspects of the carving process, from making rubber stamps, to woodcuts, to relief work and, finally, beads. Minter will train artists and educators to share these skills over the winter in workshops, field trips, school programs, and classes. Minter returns in 2022 for workshops, to share in programming by other Call & Response artists, and to complete and dedicate the sculpture. We will organize a symposium around the project in late 2022.

Rootwork serves as an introduction to the artist’s work. It is the third iteration of “a distant holla,” an assemblage and collaging of Minter’s carvings, paintings, objects, and material created over a span of time but related by an ongoing personal narrative. The artist wants people to see the connections, not just between different works but between the themes and issues embedded in them. He accomplishes this by taking a collage-like approach to presenting his work—creating a narrative through his placement of objects–and through his intentional and iterative use of a compelling visual language made up of “water and wind; fish and boats; musical instruments; brooms, axes and other implements of labor; bottles and bowls; Black people’s faces, bodies and hair; traditional foods like okra, black-eyed peas and greens; turtles; birds; and various representations of Spirit, the continuity of the life force, and the power of healing in the world” (Rachel Elizabeth Harding, “Quantum Exchange: The Diasporic Art of Daniel Minter,” 2019). “I am working toward a practice where every piece that I make can have an intimate connection to whatever is connected to it,” Minter observes. “The notion that all things are connected is important to me.”

Harding, who has written extensively about Minter’s work, describes it as “an artwork reuniting Black people with their totems – the mythic resources and cultural sinew embedded in our historical experience” and as “a navigation system.” According to Harding, Minter describes his art as “a technology; a mode of creativity that uses African diasporic sensibilities to enable an alternative understanding about the world; a way to recognize and access ancestral resources for individual and collective struggle.” Harding sees Minter’s work as both a strategy and a pedagogy, “instructing viewers in the essential elements of its language and suggesting ways to engage its multiple meanings.”