Duluth Native Changes University Avenue in St. Paul

By KBJR News 1

December 15, 2010 Updated Dec 15, 2010 at 1:44 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Amidst the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis, we sat down with a man whose artwork is bringing a community together.

Meet Wing Young Huie— A son of a Chinese immigrant, and the only kid in his family to be born an American—a label he doesn't take for granted.

"How does someone like me who was born and raised in Duluth how do I see the world and how does it see me. I think that drives a lot of my work."

Wing has a unique career. Photographing a culture not well understood in a part of town known for its poverty and violence.

"I'm not interested in how the world should be, I'm just interested in what it looks like."

Huie, along with Public Arts St Paul, took on the daunting task of capturing hundreds of photographs up and down University Avenue— and bringing a community together one photo at a time.

The project spans 6 miles with hundreds of photos—some as large as 30 by 40 feet—dotting the roadway on buildings, bus stops, and store windows.

A flagship exhibit, known as the Projection site, sits smack dab in the middle of University Avenue displaying a slideshow of 450 photos.

This gives the community members a chance to see their real neighborhood.

Free of judgment, free of perceptions, and free of fear.

And community members have taken notice.

"One man said I live in the neighborhood and I don't know anything about art and I saw these photographs and it made me proud of the neighborhood."

But the exhibit is more than just photographs. It's a chance for the people of University Avenue to not only see themselves, but their neighborhood in a different light.

"When something becomes familiar to you, you don't see it anymore."

The University Avenue project has one goal.

To shatter our preconceived notions on race, culture, and status.. and to see one another as we are in our most elementary form.

Humans.

"People think Minnesota is Lake Wobegon... love the show but I do not live there. I live in a place called Minnesota. So what I'm trying to do is throw out these photographic facts. These bits of photographic mirrors. And its up to you to decide what it is youre looking at.. because ultimately you're looking at yourself."

Written for the web by Chris Axelson
caxelson@northlandsnewscenter.com

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