Art galleries and museums are shuttered. In-person exhibitions are postponed, sometimes replaced by virtual ones. But one thing endures during the pandemic. Instagram has become a go-to source for new artwork and creative inspiration. Once lauded as a distraction, the addictive, visually focused platform can feel like a curated gallery of images, constant stories and endless videos. Find your way to these five dazzling Minnesota accounts that will keep you scrolling.
Roshan Ganu @blingalingthoughts
This illustrator and comic artist likes to keep things small, which is why she works in miniatures. Her Instagram is a fun trip through hand-drawn comics illustrating her quirky inner thoughts about the world, her body, social interactions and food, as well as little sweet, short, animated videos.
In a recent comic about watching Netflix during social distancing, her character eats a tub of popcorn and then starts freaking out about how people are not social distancing on-screen. Other times, her chappal, an Indian handcrafted leather slipper, narrates various intense journeys, like moving by yourself during quarantine, or advice for those who decide to mow their lawns at 8 a.m.
The Porch Gallery @theporchgallery
The porch of Mark Schoening’s and Dawn England’s Minneapolis home is usually swarming with people peering through the living-room window at art on display there. But now the gallery is using the squares of Instagram as a virtual porch. The current crowdsourced exhibition, “Critics Picks,” features art-book titles that people anonymously submitted to the gallery via a Google form.
Influenced by inspirational signs, leftover construction materials, art world satire, memes and more, the variously colored books are lined up as if on a real-life bookshelf. Some of my favorites include “Audience of One,” “You’ve Virtually Made It!” and “Congratulations!!!!!!! You’re an Attractive Artist.” The “books” are available for checkout never.
Kerem Yücel @keremyucel
This freelance photojournalist from Istanbul wanders the Midwest, discovering breathtaking images along the way. A contributor to Agence France-Presse and Minnesota Public Radio, Yücel has shot pictures across Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His current adventure is America. He recently traveled to South Dakota to shoot gravestones covered in flowers at the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, where COVID-19 is rampant.
Scroll down to rediscover a time that seems strangely long ago, back when Minnesotans gathered to play hockey. His camera peers through openings and tiptoes through crowds to forbidden spaces, but also captures human emotion head-on. Through a crack in a black curtain during an Iowa primary debate, he catches a photo of a U.S. flag hanging in a media room, imbuing this moment with wonderment.
Carla Alexandra Rodriguez @blkkhand
Instagram filters are basic, Polaroid photos reek of retro gone stale and Kodak film is just nostalgic. Tintype photos are a relic of a past that only our dead relatives and this St. Paul-based photographer know about. Rodriguez runs a mobile tintype photo booth that takes everyone back to the mid-1800s.
By reframing the past in the present, she offers everyone a chance to time-travel. These days she posts lots of photos of mothers and daughters, and live videos of her entire tintype process. No one is left in the dark, literally or metaphorically.
Lamia Abukhadra @lamiaabukhadra
Raised in the Twin Cities and currently based in Beirut, where she had a fellowship before the pandemic began, this Palestinian-American artist examines how dominant narratives perpetuated colonialism and ethnic cleansing. Her work is poetic and intimate, and so is her Instagram. Before lockdown, she posted highly detailed studies of huddles of people, resembling protesters crowding the streets of Beirut, and mounds of rocks. Both form a similar shape.
In other posts, rocks form ghostly impressions in thick brown paper. The artist appears in mirrors and selfies, like a visitor looking at herself through other worlds. Oh, and she found a tortoise that has become a pet during quarantimes. Sometimes it hides in boxes; other times, dustpans. “We are all quarantortoise,” Abukhadra comments.