Reaching the community through art

Reagan Stanchfield, staff writer

“It’s those different sections that all have their own colors and their own details and their own insights that stitched together make a really cool community that lasts for a long time,” Heather Novak-Peterson, Senior Environmental Graphic Designer at design firm RSP, said, describing her inspiration for local painting “Garden Quilt.”

The piece draws from various aspects of culture and architecture to create a collage of images reflecting life in Edina. The artwork is located on an external wall of the North Parking Ramp of 50th and France and consists of 18 pieces of varying size and design. In addition to local art, Novak-Peterson’s work can be found both nationally and internationally.

Novak-Peterson explains that she drew inspiration for both this specific piece and other public works she has created for cities by using the cultural elements from the local area to spark the interest of viewers. “It was important to make it aesthetically fun at the same time but then also have some relevance that really spoke about the history of the city and at the location that it’s at,” Novak-Peterson said. She also experiences this connection herself as she is a local resident in the area.

Despite having completed an internal public piece for the city of Minneapolis, this is her first external work of public art. She contends that this new experience establishes an opportunity to receive authentic feedback. “I always get a little nervous until I see it, but then to see the reaction of people around me too is really important. And it’s kind of neat because as an artist, people don’t always know who you are, so you can mingle in the crowd and hear what they say,” Novak-Peterson said.

Although featuring art for the public is beneficial to the exposure of an artist, it also allows students to participate in their community. Sophomore Shreya Konkimalla got involved in the process of incorporating Novak-Peterson’s work as a part of the Arts and Culture Commission. “I have met really cool people, and it is fun to be involved in the community,” Konkimalla said, regarding her experience on the commission thus far.

Both Novak-Peterson and Konkimalla recommend engagement in art or their community to those interested. Novak-Peterson emphasized that, although developing a career in art is difficult, the investment will be beneficial. “I think one of the best things for students to do is to think about things as careers, but really think about things that inspire you and excite you, and make that be the biggest component about your career,” Novak-Peterson said.

Konkimalla also advocates for the importance that her position on the commission has in uncovering previously unknown passions: “I encourage other students to get involved in the community and let their voices be heard. We have the ability to bring different ideas to the table and make a difference.”