Kinji Akagawa: Feeling Beauty in the City

Imagine a Fargo more condusive to creative life, one with more spaces allowing you to rest your feet, reflect on your surroundings, or eat lunch outside while you read a book. Imagine a Fargo that encourages you to be healthier and more active, one in which your stressful life is buffered by spaces where you can meet with friends and chat under the late autumn sun.

Such a city is the goal of artist Kinji Akagawa – places that are healthier and cleaner, places that contribute to a more balanced lifestyle for inhabitants and build a sense of serenity and cohesiveness. Akagawa’s public art works do this by both accentuating and deintensifying the environment, offering city dwellers a place to pause or socialize. He creates small, everyday oases that defuse a city’s callous nature, exploring¬†the relationship between art and the community through the use of elegant shapes and natural materials, mainly stone and wood. His works are meant to be practical as well as beautiful, a notion perhaps best seen through his famous benches – two such works can be found in the Walker Sculpture Garden and Nicollet Mall.

Akagawa is a well-known figure in the public art movement, a professor emeritus of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and a recipient of the 2009 McKnight Distinguished Artist award. He was also part of the Museum’s 2009 Defiant Gardens Symposium. In a presentation entitled “Feeling Beauty in the City,” Akagawa will encourage the City of Fargo to consider issues addressed in his work in its long-range planning process. The presentation will be held at Fargo City Hall Wednesday, October 5, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.