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Everyday we absorb fragments of hidden and apparent histories. Brooks Turner engages the history of fascism in Minnesota, and its ripple effects into the present as it persists in the architecture that surrounds us, institutions we work with, and laws that govern us. Through collaborative research at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Historical Society, Turner unearths and traces into the present the forgotten histories of fascism in the 1930s—as well as counter-efforts by contemporary activists, labor unions, and others. Art, in this context, becomes a means of disseminating narratives currently gathering dust in our collective consciousness, offering a platform to address and counter the present reemergence of exclusionary populist ideologies both locally and globally.

With the Teamsters Strike of 1934 and the success of the Farmer-Labor Party, Minnesota established itself in the 1930s as a U.S. center for progressive thinking and action across the political spectrum. But, just beneath the surface, a tangled web of Fascist activity connected American Nazis to prominent businessmen, lawyers, and government officials. Over the last two years, artist and educator Brooks Turner has traced these connections through documents archived in the Minnesota Historical Society, existing scholarship, and aesthetic analysis, focusing in particular on the Silver Legion of America, a national Fascist organization that found considerable support in Minnesota. Through drawing and collage, Turner reassembled an aesthetic history of Fascism in Minnesota, the traces of which can still be seen throughout the Twin Cities and beyond.

The exhibition-in-print, Legends and Myths of Ancient Minnesota by Brooks Turner, was delivered to about 36,000 Twin Cities subscribers of the Star Tribune on October 25, 2020. Copies are also on-site at WAM, and available to take home between October 25, 2020-May 30, 2021. Can’t make it to the museum in person? We’ll mail a copy to you by request (while the stock lasts).

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Visit the project website at bundleofsticks.art >>


About the Artist

Headshot of Brooks TurnerBROOKS TURNER is an artist, writer, and educator. His recent work engages the history of fascism in Minnesota and has been supported through a 2020 Artist Residency in the Weisman’s Target Studio Collaboration Incubator, a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, a Minnesota Humanities Center Innovation Lab Grant, and a Rimon: Minnesota Jewish Arts Council Project Support Grant. Since 2014, he has taught sculpture, drawing, and painting at the University of California, Los Angeles, St. Cloud State University, Ridgewater College, and is currently Chair of Visual Arts at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts. In 2017, he wrote A Guide to Charles Ray Sleeping Mime, published with Paperleaf Press, and continues to write essays for Hair and Nails Gallery and Temp/reviews. Turner holds an MFA in Sculpture from UCLA and a BA in Art and Art History from Amherst College.

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Brooks Turner is a fiscal year 2020 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This project is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

This project is made possible in part with the support of Rimon: the Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, an initiative of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. 

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Rimon: The MN Jewish Arts Council logo