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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Art Exhibit Celebrates Work of Alumni, Faculty, Faculty Emeriti

Exhibit runs from Oct. 5-21 at Carnegie Art Center.

Diana Rojo-Garcia, Mankato Free Press, 9-28-2017

When Minnesota State University, Mankato was founded in 1868 as the Mankato Normal School, traffic lights had just been invented.

Minnesota State Mankato has been celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary since February with festivities and events. The latest celebratory event starts next week at the Carnegie Art Center in Mankato: a special exhibit called “Faculty, Emeriti, Alumni 150.” It runs Oct. 5-21.

The exhibit has brought together more than 40 faculty, faculty emeriti and alumni to display new work that “highlights the artistic activity nurtured and inspired by the University’s acclaimed Department of Art,” as stated in the event’s poster.

Brian Frink, chairman of the Minnesota State Mankato art department and organizer of the exhibit, said the Carnegie has a longstanding relationship with Minnesota State Mankato students and faculty, with both having many exhibitions over the years.

“We go back as far as 40 years with John Spurgin, who was the chair of the department before I came,” Frink said. “There is also Jerry Ott, who graduated in the mid 70’s in the exhibition and artists from different time periods. It’s a good way to highlight our community.”

There are more than 119,000 alumni worldwide, and they won’t be left out of the exhibit.

“We have a student from Taiwan shipping in work and another from Vermont — Rebecca Kinkead — an incredibly successful painter,” Frink said.

There are others from Los Angeles, New York City and Wisconsin that will also be displayed in the show.

Kinkead graduates in 1998 and will have two paintings in the show.

She originally came to get her master’s degree in experiential education.

A ceramics class changed her career path.

“I was in my late 20s and didn’t know what to do with my life, and (experiential education seemed) tolerable,” Kinkead said.

“Then it was when I got out there and I took this ceramics class, it was really an epiphany. Kinkead recalls not being able to sleep after because she was so excited about art.

“At that point, there was no turning back,” she said.

Kinkead finished her bachelor’s degree in art, majoring in ceramics.

When she moved away from Mankato, she returned east and settled in Boston as a nanny where she began to paint.

Kinkead can now be found in Vermont as an active and thriving artist, who has sold a painting to Oprah.

Rea Mingeva, a retired art professor from Minnesota State Mankato, was also invited to be a part of the show. Mingeva now lives in Tennessee, but was thrilled to get the invitation to be a part of the school’s anniversary exhibition.

She describes her time at Minnesota State Mankato as having a great environment and great colleagues.

But what Mingeva genuinely enjoyed about Minnesota State Mankato was the students. The invitation to the exhibition became more thrilling after she was told that she would have an opportunity to invite a student to be a part of the show. Jonathan Matthews, an Minnesota State Mankato alumni, was handpicked by Mingeva to participate in the exhibition.

“He is now a full time artist and art handler in New York City, and he has gone on to be a kick-ass artist,” Mingeva said.

“That’s the only reason I loved teaching — the handful that continue to pursue art like their life depended on it.”

The exhibit will include paintings, sculptures and even videos.

“We’re really taking up the place,” Frink said.

Help celebrate Minnesota State Mankato's 150th anniversary at the opening reception Sunday Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. at the Carnegie. The show itself will open Thursday Oct. 5.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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