Erica Rasmussen explores the transformative power of art

Erica Rasmussen, Gordon Parks Gallery director
Erica Rasmussen, Gordon Parks Gallery director

Unique art is everywhere at Metropolitan State and all you have to do is walk the halls to discover its creativity. If our art inspires you to seek more, then look no further than Metropolitan State’s own Gordon Parks Gallery located in the Library and Learning Center at Saint Paul campus. Erica Rasmussen, Metro State professor and gallery director, hosts several exhibitions each semester highlighting the talents of student, community and professional artists

Rasmussen has been actively involved in Metropolitan State University for many years, starting as an assistant teacher in the art department. Rasmussen earned her B.F.A and M.F.A. at the University of Minnesota. Today she teaches studio arts and brings her years of experience into the classroom.

As an artist, Rasmussen currently specializes in mixed media art and handmade paper garments. Her distinctive works have been praised in publications such as Fiber Arts, Surface Design and Hand Paper Making. Her sculptural garments emphasize childhood myths or adult anxieties regarding the body. As a way of better understanding her extreme emotions to these issues, Rasmussen allows the art to heal and transform her feelings. She has been known to use materials such as tomato paste, hair, tea bags, sausage casings and fish skins.

Recently Rasmussen was inspired by the ritual practice of burning Joss paper.  The beauty and delicacy compelled her to purchase the paper to someday use in her art. Traditionally, Joss paper is burned ceremoniously at various Asian funerals, with each sheet vested with a special prayer for the departed. Once this meaning became known, Rasmussen soon began her work to transform the paper into a traditional Chinese jacket. She decided that this garment was a great opportunity to become involved in aspects of her death, therefore allowing herself a way to prepare for it. Rasmussen calls the piece, “A Coat for Two Occasions,” emphasizing that this will be worn for her funeral and cremation.

The current exhibit at Gordon Parks Gallery is “Reconciliations,” featuring sculptural textiles by Tracy Krumm. The exhibit runs through Nov. 6.