MagiNation engages youths and adults in the exploration and creation of site-specific play and art making. It is a series of events at predetermined places in KCMO – primarily in low-income, multi-cultural immigrant communities. Led by Minh DuPha, it affords access to and experience in experimental, fun design and production, as part of a nifty process of education and resource development.
Nearly fifty percent of materials used for each project will be found and/or recycled objects directly related to or sourced from each project-site. This cornerstone component will give participants an opportunity to re-envision the form and function of readily available community materials, and reflects Minh’s own resourceful childhood experiences in Vietnam.
An example of such creative, environmental site-specificity, cross-community cultural interaction, and integrative science and art is the project proposed for the Niles Home for Children. In collaboration with Healthy Lifestyle Project Coordinator Ryan Tenney, it will dig and clean the clay soil of the Community Garden at Niles and include residents, staff, and visitors in using it to make ceramic objects – such as bowls or vases.
Concourse Water Park is an accessible space where significant public interaction occurs, and it will be another site for engagement with multiple communities. The MagiNation project ‘pop-pop boat’, with its simple steam engine design, is geared toward the use of the water fountain at Concourse. These two projects, and three others, will be offered during the summer and autumn of 2015.
Lead artist Minh DuPha says: “The heart of MagiNation is centered on the use of imagination as a transformational art practice. In Kansas City’s urban environs, making use of at-hand resources in an imaginative way can positively affect community health and education. The project’s mobile facility will be key in connecting with a wide range of audiences and venues, and will help build excitement. The MagiNation cart will be a sight of wonder with its own theme music – just like your favorite ice cream truck! The public parks it pop-ups at have been chosen to be inclusive yet surprising venues, and are used by multi-income, immigrant, and minority-dominant communities.”
In order to insure that inclusiveness is a mainstay of the events, MagiNation will include future guest event leaders from across Kansas City art and science communities that will share a practice of imagination. These leaders include astronomer Linda Nguyen, farmer Ryan Tenney, and percussionist Bird Fleming, as well as former participant-audience members. Cat Mahari will lead its volunteer coordination.
Minh Du Pha was born in Tra Vinh, Vietnam, and his family migrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. Minh’s experiences as a child in Vietnam deeply influence his creative approach to the practicality of art making and learning through play. His projects are rooted in his desire to rekindle the outdoor classroom inspired by third world Vietnam, which encourages resourcefulness and understanding of natural and readily available materials such as sticks, mud, grasses, and recyclables.
Educated in America, Minh is a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, majoring in painting and minoring in architecture. Aspiring to be an art educator, Minh has taught at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Walker Point Center for the Arts, and Mattie Rhodes Art Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He also has NPASS certification (National Partnership in After School Science) through Mattie Rhodes.
A multi-disciplinary artist, Minh du Pha, incorporates social and cultural discourse into his painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation. Using his work for advocacy and awareness, Minh’s practice can be found in conjunction with multiple local activist groups, artists, and scientists, all striving to bring to light injustice and restore of dignity to our world.