Outer Experiences: Black Life in Rural and Suburban Minnesota

In partnership with The African American Interpretive Center of Minnesota (AAICM), the M is proud to present Outer Experiences: Black Life in Rural and Suburban Minnesota, on display in the M’s window galleries on Robert and 4th Streets, opening Thursday, February 25, 2021.

The exhibition, curated by AAICM Executive Director JoJo Bell, explores the experience of being Black outside of the Twin Cities. Drawing from AAICM’s archives and oral history project, it features photographs by Chris McDuffie alongside excerpts from interviews with Black Minnesotans who had formative experiences in rural or suburban parts of the state. Outer Experiences amplifies the voices of Black Minnesotans and the underrepresented histories that connect them to their homes. The photographs and interviews explore the  narrators’ family histories, their lives in small-town Minnesota, and their experiences of living on the margins of Black and white society.

Themes of self-discovery, belonging, and W.E.B. Du Bois’ Double Consciousness are captured in narrator words and photography by Chris McDuffie.

The AAICM’s oral history project was made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society. Outer Experiences: Black Life in Rural and Suburban Minnesota is generously sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Exhibition Map

Click to enlarge

Chris McDuffie (born 1986)
Cul-de-Sac, 2020
Pigment print
AAICM Digital Collection

Visitor Survey

Click here to provide feedback about your visit to see Outer Experiences at the M.

Outer Experiences Oral History Project

Want to hear more from the participants in the African American Interpretive Center’s oral history project? Click here to visit the audio library.

Chris McDuffie’s Photo Mission to Find Yourself in Outer Experiences

Read an interview with Outer Experiences photographer Chris McDuffie and learn about how the exhibition photographs came to be and who was behind the lens.

Upcoming Program

Art Kit Pick-Up

May 16, 2021

1:00-3:00 p.m.

Stop by the M’s entrance at 350 Robert Street in downtown St. Paul to pick up a free, all-ages art kit, which includes fun and thoughtful art supplies and activities to help you engage with the exhibition.

Recorded Programs

Outer Experiences Conversation: Belonging

This is a dynamic conversation on the experience of living on the margins of Black and white society in rural and suburban communities in Minnesota, centered around the theme of belonging. Robyne Robinson facilitated with JoJo Bell, Cheniqua Johnson, and Alex West Steinman. Watch the program below!

Outer Experiences Kick-Off

We celebrated the opening of the exhibition with curator JoJo Bell, Director of Exhibitions at the African American Interpretative Center of Minnesota and special guest hip-hop artist Matt “Nur-D” Allen. Watch the program below!