Pedal to the Metal
Jessica BergmanTank is the creative mind behind Pedal to the Metal, an innovative approach to bringing metal casting to the community through special events and projects. “Bringing arts to the community makes art less intimidating and more accessible for people. Metal arts has a wide range – from welding to blacksmith to metal clay.”
Jessica’s first experience with metal arts was in high school, where she learned bronze casting and wax figures. After experimenting with different mediums, such as painting, she returned to her first interest, metal casting, when completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Arts and Arts History at the University of Minnesota. Jessica then began working at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center (CAFAC) where she and two others developed a foundry program, and where Jessica teaches Sculptural Metal Casting Fundamentals.
In addition to her work at the CAFAC, Jessica is becoming increasingly engaged in public art work, which was furthered with assistance from the City of Lakes Community Land Trust’s Opportunity Fund. Jessica received an Opportunity Fund grant in the spring of this year to purchase portable metal foundry equipment. “The mission of the grant fit perfectly with my public art project ideas”, said Jessica. A small, portable furnace was purchased with the $500 grant and is light weight enough for transportation to many different spaces. Being able to transport the furnace with a cargo bike gave rise to the name, Pedal to the Metal.
Acquiring the portable furnace has assisted in new opportunities for Jessica. In 2015, Jessica was a Forecast Making It Public grant recipient. One of the projects supported by this grant was directing a guided bronze pour in Mears Park, known as “Find Me Hide Me”. In partnership with Klara Wagnild, participants were invited to explore connections between Lowertown history, places, and people through the inclusion of historical imagery and dialogue. The pour yielded small tokens bearing that imagery on one side, with directions to an educational, digital mapping website on the other. The tokens were then scattered throughout Lowertown to be discovered, researched, mapped, and re-hidden by others. The project, carefully designed to reflect the cultivated relationship between past, present, and future that makes Lowertown a hub of dynamic, creative energy, commenced with a public pour during a Music in Mears concert series event. Token discovery, and the historical education it inspires, will take place for months to follow. Jessica is seeking funding for another “Find Me Hide Me” for South Minneapolis.
Pedal to the Metal supports Jessica’s main focus currently, which is to “get out and get seen”. A key lesson learned from her work to date is that “things take longer than you expect”. Since the birth of her second child, much of Jessica’s energy has been into being a full-time artist. “Things are unfolding positively, and the world is showing this is the correct decision for me”, said Jessica. “If one is willing to put in the work, it is possible to sustain as an artist.”