Looking Back at Five Years of MING Studios 

click to enlarge img_4969.jpg

Harrison Berry

Branch by branch, Giuseppe Licari built a forest of his own design. In the open space behind Ming Studios, his blowtorch belched fire onto the remains of a pine tree that had already fallen victim to the Pioneer Fire, and later became part of his installation at Ming, Contrappunto, which transformed the angular, white-and-gray space of the gallery into a desolate, post-burn forest in 2016.

"Through simply standing in this room, my relationship between my childhood and identity changed," Boise poet C.L. Young told people who went to Ming's fifth-anniversary party on May 1. The Pioneer Fire stuck in Young's mind as a metaphor for her work, with every poem a journey between plumes of smoke. Over the last half-decade, Ming has meant a lot of things to a lot of people—it has been an exhibition site for local and international visual artists, a music venue and a gathering place.

click to enlarge - "Idaho's Treasure" by Caroline Earley was part of the 2018 edition of Holding What Can't Be Held at Ming Studios. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • "Idaho's Treasure" by Caroline Earley was part of the 2018 edition of Holding What Can't Be Held at Ming Studios.
Looking back at it, Contrappunto inspired a number of artists in Idaho and beyond, including Project Flux, a Boise-based contemporary dance company; and Robin Coste Lewis, the National Book Award-winning poet.

Ming began making its mark in year one, when it brought Kerstin Winking, a curator at the Stedelijk Museum in the Netherlands, to Celebration Park near Melba. Winking specializes in the connections between ancient and contemporary art around the world.

"I'm really interested in contemporary art, so I'm always excited when I see these things in their work," she said of the 1,000-year-old petroglyphs strewn around Celebration Park.

A nonprofit, Ming shies away from the political, but on a few occasions, artists using the space have dipped their toes in those waters. For several years, Ming has hosted Holding What Can't Be Held, an exhibition comprising works that take aim at one of Idaho's most controversial institutions, the Idaho National Laboratory.

click to enlarge - Jason Morales, founder of Ming Studios, spoke at its fifth-anniversary party. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Jason Morales, founder of Ming Studios, spoke at its fifth-anniversary party.
"I'm trying to create a culture around this substance that's always going to be there," said curator and artist Tim Andreae about the radioactive materials that have made INL a flashpoint in the debate over nuclear power.

Speaking from a podium at Ming during its fifth-anniversary bash, founder Jason Morales said the studio's function has been, from the beginning, to "support and put artists first."

"We've been really blessed to be part of this," he said.
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