A giant brown eye gazing up toward the sky appears atop a collage of newspaper clippings and the text: "AVIRUS."
Viewers will immediately understand that Ella Alden Pope's paint-and-newspaper collage "The Future Past" touches on the COVID-19 pandemic that's claimed more than 200,000 American lives.
Ten inches square, her piece is just one of 2,066 artworks by Minnesota artists featured in "Foot in the Door," the giant once-in-a-decade exhibit that welcomes anyone in the state to submit pieces for display by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, as long as it's no bigger than one foot in any direction.
This is the fifth iteration of the show, and the first time it's gone online.
"The show includes artists from Moorhead to the metro area, artists who work in greater Minnesota, artists who are nonprofessional to kids and senior citizens," said Mia curator Nicole Soukup, who organized the show. "It's a great snapshot of the creativity across the state."
The virtual-only premise ensured a lower bar to entry than in past years, since artists didn't have to deliver or ship their art to the museum. Still, the number of entries was less than half of what it was in 2010, when the show featured around 5,000 artworks in what the Star Tribune described as a "truly crazy thrift shop."
Soukup wondered if the emotional exhaustion of 2020 caused some people to skip submitting their work: "It doesn't matter where you live in this country — we are all dealing with a pandemic and racial reckoning."
Visitors can browse the database-like "show" by medium — ceramics, paintings, photography, drawings, prints, sculpture, textiles, mixed media — or use the search function to filter the hundreds of works by artist's name, keyword or even color.
The site feels a bit like online shopping, with a clean grid showing perfectly square images. (Ten people worked on the site, including some hired to do user-experience-driven design.) When you click on an image, you're sent to the artwork's dedicated link within the database.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design MFA candidate Alondra M. Garza offered "Mexicana #7," a photo of a woman leaning backward in the corner of a white room behind a sombrero and hanging rectangular pieces of papel picado, a Mexican folk art in which sheets of tissue paper are cut into designs.
There are many election-related works, and a lot with the theme of "domesticity," which includes pets.
"I might be stirring the pot, but I think there are more cats than dogs," Soukop said.