Heart of the Beast workshops coming to St. Anthony Park Library

By Niamh Mee

The St. Anthony Park Library, at 2245 Como Avenue, is hosting a series of puppet-making workshops with a visiting artist from the Heart of the Beast Theatre, Ifrah Mansour.

Participants create their own bird puppets to fly in the St. Anthony Park Fourth of July parade. There is no registration for the workshops, with two of the latest ones scheduled for June 27; and July 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. All ages are welcome and participants can attend as many as they like.

         Entitled “Hopeful Journeys,” these workshops are an opportunity for community members to make their own bird puppets using water, flour, newspaper and paint. The workshops are sponsored by a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund of the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Mansour described the workshops as an opportunity to “discover the amazing journeys birds take and explore themes of hope as you create beautiful puppets that soar with imagination.”

A Somali refugee and multimedia artist based in Minnesota, Mansour noted his artwork usually explores trauma and the resiliency of Black, Muslim and refugee communities, blending poetry, puppetry, film and large-scale installations.

Mansour is a teaching artist for the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), located in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood in Minneapolis.

Founded in 1973, the HOBT focuses on political activism within the realm of puppet making and large-scale puppets. The theatre uses its art to support the Twin Cities puppetry community and create magical experiences through the art of puppetry. They are intended to create a reflection of the world as it is, while also allowing artists and audiences  to dream about the possibilities of a changed world.

Alisa Mee, St. Anthony Park Library children’s programming specialist, said, “HOBT is an amazingly creative organization that does a lot of good community engagement work. Our community is lucky to have had partnerships in the past between the elementary school and HOBT.

“There’s already a deep well of excitement about the work they do, and generations of kids who have been part of the puppet making workshops through school, Mee said. “So it’s fun to build on that legacy and bring community art to families.”

Niamh Mee lives in St. Anthony Park and is the daughter of Alisa Mee, She is also a Luther College student who writes for her school newspaper.

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