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Photographs of Minnesota's Iron Range


By Vance Gellert


July 2, 2:30 PM | Veda Zuponcic Auditorium Lobby, Mesabi East, Aurora

Meet photographer Vance Gellert at the opening of his new art exhibit, Iron Country: Photographs of Minnesota’s Iron Range, featuring portraits of the people and landscape that make up the iconic Iron Range in northern Minnesota.

The exhibit, which will run throughout the Festival, is free and open to the public.

Vance Gellert originally trained in the medical sciences (PhD, Pharmacology). But longing to photograph and tell stories, he left the field to get his MFA in photography. He documented home life with his son, Carl, but document may not be the right word for this wacky, colorful, sometimes scary ride. CarlVison follows Carl through one month to 11 years. Then Vance took time out to found, direct and curate a photo center (pARTs Photographic Arts) before returning to his photography. Within a month of leaving the center he was working throughout Minnesota portraying self-taught artists in their landscapes (REAL: Artists and Landscapes). He reached back to his medical background for his work on ceremony and ritual in traditional and western healing practices (Smoke and Mirrors). That work took him to Peru and Bolivia for over nine months. Vance was deeply moved by the pathos of those who experienced the 35W bridge collapse in 2007 and went to work interviewing and portraying the survivors. BRIDGE opened on the fifth anniversary of the collapse at the Mill City Museum August 1, 2012. Drained by the intensity of this project he took time out to portray the musicians and patrons of Palmer’s Bar (the best dive bar in America according to Esquire magazine in 2014) during the bar’s annual summer Palmfest event (Palmers Sideshow). From there he journeyed to Minnesota’s Iron Range for Sleeping Giant for a current survey of what’s there. He is presently working on a project with veterans: ways of expressing the trauma; ways of healing. As he likes to say, he has followed his camera to a lifetime of experiences.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He has received grants from the McKnight, Jerome and the Thomas and Edith Peilen Foundations, the Minnesota State Arts Board, The Historic Preservation and Legacy Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His photographs are in many international collections.