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The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition 2022, Interview with Anda Tanaka

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Stop by our gallery between now and March 26th, 2022 and see our annual Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition show, Juried by Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Coordinator of the Minnesota Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Nicole Soukup. 2022 marks our 20th year of exhibiting MFA candidates, and this the first year we have extended this opportunity to both MFA programs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota.

Please enjoy this series of interviews with the selected artists for this exhibition! Today we're talking to artist and printmaker, Anda Tanaka, who is a current MFA candidate at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Where do you hail from?

I was born in Moscow, Idaho, but grew up mainly in Ames, Iowa. I moved to Minnesota in 2008 to study music and art at St. Olaf College.

How do you find yourself and your work fitting into the Midwest?

I was raised in the Midwest and feel deeply connected to the Midwestern landscape. I am drawn to the expansive horizon and the richness of the earth. Having been a resident of Minnesota for over a decade, I am also invested in this community- in celebrating its joys and working towards a more equitable future. My artwork centers on the idea of a microcosmic studio ecosystem. I relate this idea to investing in the ecosystem that is a community.

I'm sure you're asked this question a lot, but for this group it varies as we all decided to go to school at different times. Some of you graduated unexpectedly into the pandemic, for some this may have been a conscious decision, so why grad school -now?

I did not initially plan to be in grad school now! I began my MFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2019, seven years after completing my undergraduate studies. At that point I felt I needed a teacher beyond myself to advance my art practice. When the pandemic began during my second semester (Spring of 2020), I decided to take an entire year off from school and return home to Minneapolis to be closer to family and live in a more affordable and familiar city. I took time off mainly because my practice is highly tactile and printmaking is one of my main media. I did not feel an online education would best serve me. This path is not what I planned, however I have had a unique opportunity to network in two different regions of the United States and gain wisdom and knowledge from two sets of professors and peers.

How has this affected your approach to grad school and/or your plans for or after?

I believe the pandemic actually shifted my work to aligning better with my priorities. While a student in March of 2020, it quickly became clear that the most valuable things we have are our health and loved ones. During that time my work became more intimate and related to domestic patterns and rhythms as well as to intergenerational wisdom and knowledge. These themes have continued into my work today.

As an artist, you're often asked to "describe your practice", so for the sake of maybe sounding a little less pretentious, what are some things you like about your practice? What kickstarts things in the studio for you?

The ideal studio day for me is when one idea sparks the next one in a chain reaction. The best way I have heard this described is by chef Tamar Adler who says of home cooking, “Meals’ ingredients must be allowed to topple into one another like dominos.” The byproduct of one project becomes material for the next. A shape in a drawing becomes a 3-dimensional form. Some days it feels like materials and ideas are endless. Those are the best days.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my MFA thesis exhibition, “Tending.” This exhibit will include materially diverse work that suggests my conception of the studio as a microcosmic ecosystem. I will be engaging with the space both inside and immediately outside of the MCAD MFA gallery.

How can we help? (this is a general "we", it could mean the gallery, individuals, institutions, charitable organizations)

Artists spend an immense amount of time (and sometimes money) on applications for opportunities. I am wondering if in the future, certain organizations might be able to band together to look at the same common application. Or if some opportunities could offer a sliding scale for entry fees. I would be interested in hearing/brainstorming other creative solutions to reduce the number of administrative tasks for artists and increase the amount of studio time!

You can follow Anda on Instagram, @atanaka_art and see more of their work on their website,

The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition runs from February 26th to March 26th, meet the artists at the opening reception of this show from 6-9pm on Saturday the 26th, and stop by the gallery during normal hours to see this work by Anda and their talented cohort!


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