The Minnesota State Fair’s 2017 Commemorative Art was unveiled at the State Fairgrounds on Thursday, June 8, by St. Paul artist Ta-coumba Aiken (pronounced tah-COOM-bah Ake-en). Surrounded by State Fair enthusiasts, he presented his artwork publicly for the first time. The original 4’ by 5’ piece will be on display in the Fine Arts Center during the 2017 Great Minnesota Get-Together, Aug. 24 through Labor Day, Sept. 4.
Aiken’s acrylic-on-canvas interpretation captures the spirit of the fair with vibrant colors and layers of imagery that display a tapestry of life. “In preparation, I visited last year’s fair 12 times over nine days and found myself concentrating on the enormous amount of energy and positive spirit I felt all over the fairgrounds,” Aiken said. “I observed people of every race, culture, gender, physical and mental challenge, and they were all exploring. Just like the fair, my piece has your eyes moving from one place to another until they settle in on something familiar. I had hoped to embrace this magical place in a whimsical way, and I believe I accomplished just that.”
Aiken is an artist, arts administrator and educator who focuses on public art and collaborative projects. He serves on the board of The Minneapolis College of Art & Design. He has participated in the creation of more than 600 murals and public art sculptures with themes ranging from local history to his own style of rhythmic pattern and spirit writing. “I create my art to heal the hearts of people and their communities by evoking positive spirit.” Aiken has served on the boards of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the African American Cultural Arts Center, Forecast Public Arts and the St. Paul Art Collective. He has acted as an advisor on the arts for both the City of Saint Paul and the City of Minneapolis. He has been the recipient of many awards including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, The Sally Ordway Irvine Award and a Bush Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship. Aiken’s work can be found internationally in public and private collections, including those of the Walker Art Center, RBC Wealth Management, Bush Foundation, Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Maya Angelou and Spiritmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden, to list a few. Visit ta-coumbaaiken.com for more information.
The commemorative poster, a limited number of signed prints and other merchandise featuring the art are available for purchase. Proceeds will support the Minnesota State Fair Foundation 501(c)(3) mission to preserve and improve the historic State Fairgrounds and support State Fair educational programs.
The 2017 Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Art is the 14th in a series of artwork created annually by Minnesota artists for the Great Minnesota Get-Together. In past years, artists have included: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (2004), Mary GrandPré (2005), Nancy Carlson (2006), Michael Birawer (2007), Edie Abnet (2008), Leo Stans (2009), Deborah Voyda Rogers (2010), Steve Thomas (2011), Joe Heffron (2012), Marie Olofsdotter (2013), Emily L. Taylor (2014), Adam Turman (2015) and Michael Sweere (2016). View gallery of past artwork.
For more information about
Ta-coumba's work, visit