Metro Work Center collaborates with local businesses

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Cast metal during Make-and-Take event at Moon Palace Books Aug. 6
For the sixth year, metal artists Jess Bergman Tank and Sara Hanson have been awarded a Community Arts Grant through the Metropolitan Regional Arts Program. They’ve spent the last two months working with participants of the Metro Work Center, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities that operates out of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
The Metro Work Center is in its 50th year of serving differently-abled adults in that location, but many people don’t realize that their program exists.
Bergman Tank said, “One of the goals of this project is to bring our artists into relationship with others, as part of a shared community. We’re making art together, but we’re also helping to build a climate of mutual understanding.”
Each year, business partners in the community are identified as places that will support the Metro Work Center art-making process and provide an eventual place to exhibit finished sculptures. For example, past business partners East Lake Library and the Third Precinct Police Station both have sculptures on display. This year’s business partners include the Riverview Theatre, the Riverview Café, and Mother Earth Gardens. There is no cost for business partners to commission a work of art.
No one knows what a sculpture will look like when the collaborative process begins. Several visits are made to each of the business partner sites, and the Metro Work Center artists have an opportunity to talk with people working there. They’ve brainstormed questions beforehand such as, “What do you like about your job? What are people doing around the neighborhood? What kind of food do you serve?”
Hanson said, “The metal sculptures we make reflect the conversations our artists have had with staff. They learn a lot about what people do in their jobs through these conversations. We have several participants at Metro Work Center who aren’t mobile enough to come on the site visits, so we take pictures and bring back to show them. Our artists are also very aware of textures, surfaces, and objects in the different workplaces. During this grant cycle, you may see us making clay impressions of coffee mugs at the Riverview Café, or of an Art Deco lamp at the Riverview Theater. All of these things can eventually be incorporated into our metal sculptures to tell a story.”
To celebrate the completion of this project, there will be a Make-and-Take event at the Moon Palace Books Plaza on Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 12-2 p.m.
Artist Sara Hanson said, “We’re excited to extend our collaboration to the greater community. Both Jess and I will have our portable foundries on site. Between us, we have many years of experience casting metal in diverse locations. The metal will be HOT, but the event will also be very safe – it’s appropriate for all ages. Come to the plaza to experience a live metal pour, and the chance to create and take home your own small, cast metal art object at no cost.”
The event is also an opportunity to learn more about the Metro Work Center. Participants Rickeem and Clyde (pictured above, second from left and second from right) will be program ambassadors that day. They both currently work at former business partner sites, doing cleaning and yard maintenance at Alexander’s Import Auto Repair and the Longfellow Dental Clinic.
Jessica Bergman Tank is available for community art making with her portable metal foundry, which she transports with a front loading cargo bike. Her business is called Pedal to the Metal: Traveling Foundry. She can be reached at Sara Hanson recently bought a retired MTC bus, and is in the process of converting it to a mobile classroom and foundry. The name of her business is WOW Mobile Metal Lab, and she can be reached at