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Celebrating local authors who create 'worlds out of words'

​For years, Arts@MSP has brought Minnesota culture to MSP Airport through visual arts and musical and dance performances. Now, Minnesota authors have been added to the mix with book readings on Arts@MSP's YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Stay Creative channels on the first Wednesday of every month.

"Story Hour" began July 1 featuring local author Kao Kalia Yang reading from her children's book "The Shared Room." That was followed in August by author Debra Cotterman, an employee of Delaware North, from her children's book, "Ely Eagle Learns to Fly." 

Next up on Wednesday (Sept. 2) is author Tom Glaser – who bills himself as the "chief happiness officer" ­– reading from his book, Full Heart Living.  

"We were just looking for ways to connect with airport visitors virtually after all our performances were cancelled because of the coronavirus and I also knew that a lot of kids were at home doing virtual learning and that this could keep them occupied – even though not all of our authors are children's authors," said Youa Vang, performing arts coordinator for the Arts@MSP program, a partnership between the MAC and the Airport Foundation MSP.

Vang said she patterned the readings after the popular Reading Rainbow series that aired for more than 25 years on PBS television. Eventually, she hopes to have the authors read in the Airport Mall gallery just outside the new food court. But for now she'll stick with recordings even though each one takes two to three days to produce.

Book cover of Ely the Eagle learns to fly"I had to learn a lot of new software just to produce these so it's seamless storytelling – just like the beginning of Reading Rainbow where they featured one book and they would go through all the pictures with somebody reading it," she said.  

To date, she has a total of seven authors lined up, including musician Chan Poling who will read from his book Jack and the Ghost with illustrations by Lucy Michell, who was also the featured MSP musician in last week's (Aug. 19) JetStream virtual music festival with several other U.S. airports.

Other authors in the series include Carleen Matts Behrens, Mary Casanova and Lisa Shaffner Sohn. 

"Arts@MSP has focused a lot on performing artists in the past but we can't forget about writers," said Vang. "They create worlds with words, and that is another form of art that needs to be celebrated."

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