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An artist's touch

People who contributed stitches to the art project led by Kristi Kuder were asked to share something about where they are from and sign a canvas that will be the backing for the artwork. (Photos by Jeff Beach / Echo Press)1 / 4
Scott Giannone (left) receives some instruction from artist Kristi Kuder as he prepares to add some stitches to a piece of artwork Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Alexandria Area Arts Association. Also stitching on the canvas were (from left) Becky Albright, Jean Back and Anne Hermes.2 / 4
Jean Back adds some beads to help add texture to a farmstead area of the artwork.3 / 4
Artist Kristi Kuder pulls a stitch through a piece of artwork she created for Sanford Health. When completed, the artwork will hang in Sanford's new hospital in Fargo.4 / 4

Alexandria area residents added their personal touch of creativity to a piece of art destined to hang in the new Sanford hospital in Fargo.

Artist Kristi Kuder was commissioned by Sanford to create the work of art that features a rural landscape depicted on a canvas, with stitching adding texture and features to the map.

Kuder, who is originally from Breckenridge, has brought the canvas there as well as to Battle Lake, Henning and Fergus Falls before coming to Alexandria. The project is moving back to Henning for a few days this week.

People were invited to stop at the Alexandria Area Arts Association to contribute their stitches to the art, even if they had little previous experience with a needle and thread.

In addition to using thread to help create texture, other objects will be incorporated to create the rural landscape.

“Some old Monopoly pieces are going to be incorporated into some of the farmsteads,” Kuder said. The red Monopoly hotel will serve as a barn, for example.

Other objects include beads, coiled wire for haystacks, and organza, a thin, sheer fabric for clouds.

A goose made of fabric will be appliqued onto the artwork to give the impression it is flying over the fields and farms.

Kuder said she wanted to create a scene that hospital patients and visitors would find soothing and felt a scene centered on farms and the flyway would be something people in the area would identify with.

The two pieces being worked on will eventually be connected, creating a work of art about 4 feet by 6½ feet. It will hang across from one of the elevator banks in the new hospital – a $494 million project along Interstate 94. Sanford has a grand opening scheduled in July.

Kuder took the project around to multiple locations, to create not just an art piece, but a sense of community.

Anyone who contributes to the stitching can sign what will become the backing for the artwork, along with a short description of where they are from.

“It’s kind of like a quilting bee, people sitting around a table,” Kuder said. “This conversation will develop .… ‘Where are you from? Where did you go?’”

Kuder gave each contributor a copy of a poem that shares pieces of childhood memories.

She asked those who added stitches to read the poem and answer the question “I am from?” with snippets of their past and their name.

“You see some really interesting memories play out in their writing,” Kuder said.