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CoverArtist: Installation artist Brie Medin created sculptural self-portraits to express her emotions
Art installation gone

The apple tree in the backyard of the New Brighton home where Brie Medin grew up is no longer there.

"I cried when they chopped it down. We all cried. But it was sick and it was killing the apple tree next to it. The backyard is just not the same." -Brie Medin

by Norma Smith Olson When Brie Medin was a girl she would climb all the way to the top of the apple tree in her parents' backyard. She would sit and read for hours and hours. It was her escape.

"My mom would say, 'If you can't get up on your own, you can't climb up there,'" Medin recalled. "I remember being so excited when I could finally reach that leg [of the tree] and pull myself to get up there. It was a safe place to just be whoever I wanted to be."

Sculpting self
Medin described herself as a fierce tomboy growing up. "I absolutely hated the color pink. I would always wear red. I really, really liked red." But, after a physical assault she stopped wearing the color. "Every time I saw red, I associated it with that. I had to find another form of red." So she bought one thing that was pink and wore it. Now she has pink jeans, pink dresses and finds pink to be a bright, fun color. "I think it's definitely a womanly color. It's loud and it's a proud color. I like the bright, bright pink color."

At this same time, Medin created her installation art piece, P.I.N.K., incorporating her safe place, the backyard apple tree, into a work of art. She wrapped and draped its branches with fabrics, creating the shape of an exuberant, lively woman dancer. P.I.N.K. stands for "Please Ignore Now Kit." "Whenever I wanted to escape, it was like my first aid kit. Going out to the apple tree, I could ignore whatever was happening around and I could just fall into my little own little world, my own little dreamland."


She created a series of installation art pieces as self-portraits of a "recovering teenager." They expressed her emotions in a veiled way. "When you look at a [portrait], you wouldn't necessarily see teenage angst or anger, you'd just see happiness. A lot of times that's what I let show through me. You kind of have to look deeper to understand that there's more meaning behind it than just bright and lively and colorful," Medin said.

A new focus
"My art has changed now, it's not as much focused on myself," Medin said. She is passionate about travel and has lived in many different places-Sweden, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, California, Washington, Alaska and now back in Minnesota. "When I became more transient, I became more focused on photography and drawing"-a more compact, easier-to-move-with-you art form. "When I lived in different countries, my art became focused on the rest of the world around me. I started to look at beauty in the small things. I try to find the beauty in everything. It is there if you look close enough, at a different angle."

Her love of travel and embracing a variety of cultures led her to become an ESL teacher. In her first ESL position, as a long-term sub at Learning Alternatives in Spring Lake Park, she worked with 19 students speaking 17 different languages. Today she works with Spanish-speaking students at Sojourner Truth Academy, a K-8 school in north Minneapolis. "I love my school, I love my job, I love my students. It's an amazing place to get to go every single day." Most of her students are fluent orally-in speaking and listening-but need an extra boost in reading and writing, she said.

Medin finds inspiration from her students. "They encourage me to be obnoxious!" she said. "I already am kind of loud, I like to wear bright colors, and I am already kind of obnoxious on my own. But, it seems that they learn better when I'm obnoxious and in their face, make them laugh."

FFI: www.mnartists.org, search for Brie Medin

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