MENOMONIE Wisc. (WLAX/WEUX) – A new art exhibit at UW-Stout is hoping to bring attention to issues surrounding two of our most important resources: land and water.

This exhibit brought artists who are from all racial and ethnic backgrounds and are interested in things that greatly affect them. To hold the land is an art exhibit revolving around issues facing land and water from ownership to extraction. Witt Siasoco is an artist from the Twin Cities and a first-time curator of the exhibit.

“To hold the land is an exhibition really exploring issues that artists are grappling around land and water issues…and really the show comes from my own personal experience and thinking about my connection to the land, whether that be through private property or through water or through owning my house…started really to think about how the land has been used historically as a tool of oppression.”, said Siasoco.

Eleven artists from around the Midwest and New Mexico showcased their own ideas, thoughts, or experiences surrounding land and water ownership.

“Many of these objects in the show including the teepee are objects that were used in activist activities or things that were used in protest of what artists or what these people believe needs to be changed.”

Michael Hoyt is one of the featured artists. Over the summer he made paintings as part of a project called “free the deeds.”

He captured two families from the North and South sides of Minneapolis that experienced discrimination while searching for a home because of a practice that determines where people can live.

“The two portraits that are in there have been displayed throughout the cities as part of a larger effort to educate the public about a racial covenant that has existed throughout the cities and throughout the country.”, said Hoyt.

Other artists tackle immigration, indigenous sovereignty, and industries that profit from the land by extracting minerals, oil, and timber. Siasoco says these are real issues that are happening now.

“I think they’re the ones that can ask the questions through a non-verbal way and art is a great way to get people to talk about things they maybe wouldn’t talk about and they can bring their own experiences.”, said Siasoco.

Siasoco hopes the exhibit inspires conversations and solutions. The ‘To Hold the Land’ exhibit can be seen until December 18th in UW-Stout’s Furlong Gallery. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm and until 4 pm on Friday.