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Transparent skyway wrap tells a life story

Graphics, Projects | November 1, 2008 | By:

Every picture tells a story, and a series of transparent 10 by 13-foot photographs installed in the windows of a Minneapolis, Minn., skyway (enclosed pedestrian bridge) tell stories of homes left behind and new lives claimed. “Speaking of Home,” a temporary art installation by Nancy Ann Coyne, transforms the glass-and-steel skyway over a major downtown intersection into a light box peopled with the faces of 23 immigrants and their families. Coyne wanted the black-and-white photographs printed on sheer scrim banner fabric to be “motionless and too big to ignore.” Text from in-depth interviews describes immigrants’ reasons for leaving their native lands and building new homes in America.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul provide a safe haven to the largest Somali and Hmong populations and second-largest Tibetan population in the U.S. The exhibit displays the word home in each immigrant’s native language to emphasize that “having a home is important to every culture,” according to Cambodian immigrant Savandy Yin. Biographies of immigrants and their families appear on Plexiglas® silk-screened text panels, and the whole is illuminated from within by daylight and evening lighting. Throughout the day and after dusk, the skyway appears as an architectural light box.

Hundreds of people pass through the skyway each day, and thousands more travel the Nicollet Mall within full view of the exhibit. Project partners, funders, sponsors and advisors saw “Speaking of Home” as an excellent way to celebrate the state of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary while portraying the strengths and trials of its newest citizens. For more information about the project, visit

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