An Articulation of Artists: McKnight Portraits by Rik Sferra | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

An Articulation of Artists: McKnight Portraits by Rik Sferra

Concourse Gallery
Gallery Exhibition
An Articulation of Artists: McKnight Portraits by Rik Sferra


Since 1989, I have had the privilege of photographing a unique and talented group of artists through the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. The portraits of the fellowship recipients represent a record of some of the best artists working in the state of Minnesota over more than two decades. When considering ways to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this program, I suggested to MCAD Gallery Director Kerry Morgan that we mount a portrait exhibition of some of my favorite photographs from this project.

It has been a privilege not only to photograph a gifted group of artists, but also to work with an adept group of designers and gallery directors who have always been willing to accommodate and encourage my efforts to photograph each group of fellowship recipients in a distinct manner. Though some efforts have been more successful than others, I am grateful for the patience and willingness the fellowship artists have shown me during the photographic sessions.

Some of the portraits selected for this exhibition are the portraits that appeared in the McKnight catalogue for that year. Others are outtakes or alternate images that I feel are as strong as the catalogue shot. Regardless, my goal has always been to make the subject feel comfortable and to convey an attitude: serious, confident, playful, pensive, even annoyed. The images on view encompass a wide variety of styles and photographic formats, from Polaroid to Widelux to high-end digital, and represent trends and developments in the field of photography as much as a record of the program.

I would like to thank Kerry Morgan and the MCAD Gallery installation crew for their help and support. And I am especially appreciative of Bethany Knowles-Thompson and the MCAD Service Bureau staff for their dedication in working with me to produce the prints for this exhibition. 

Rik Sferra