Aki Shibata: First Dates

3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series

The final 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series exhibition of the year, features a unique project by St. Paul-based artist Aki Shibata. Originally trained in photographic processes, Shibata has transitioned her practice into one that explores the behavior of human interaction and notions of performance. Many of her recent projects involve dancing in public spaces for a specified duration of time on a repeated schedule. Consequently, her audience can be wholly random, or in some cases, repeat viewers. In either situation, the act of looking and it’s relationship to personal and public space is confronted and analyzed. In other projects, the artist facilitates interaction with others following a more systematic approach.

For her exhibition First Dates, the artist will focus distinctly on the complex social condition of meeting someone for the first time. After a “date” with a member of the public is facilitated, the artist will cook a meal in the RAC kitchen, and serve it to the participant in the Atrium Gallery. Here, the artist and the selected individual will meet and interact for the first time. Not unlike a traditional first date, general topics may be discussed, with questions posed and answered. This event is also viewable to RAC visitors, uniquely altering the experience for both.

The artist states:

This project is interesting to me in that I am setting up a challenge for myself and broadening my creative practice. I am asking many questions about human behavior and what can happen in a formal gallery space. This work is more focused on a single person that I am having a meal with, and the interesting relationship I am going to have for that moment, which has to be a relationship grounded in the present.


Aki Shibata was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. After completing her general studies, she moved to Minnesota, receiving her BFA in photography from the College of Visual Arts in St, Paul. She currently teaches visual art and participates as an artist-in-residence at schools throughout the Twin Cities.



Rochester Art Center continually strives to engage visitors of all ages in the creation, contemplation, and appreciation of the visual arts. As a non-collecting institution, the Art Center focuses it efforts on presenting temporary exhibitions throughout the year featuring established local, national, and international artists, as well as emerging artists from diverse backgrounds working in a variety of media.


In 2004, Rochester Art Center initiated the 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series—an exhibition program dedicated to promising young artists working in the state of Minnesota. Since its inception, the series has reflected shifting trends in contemporary artistic practice and production, and has helped to facilitate the creation of new bodies of work in a variety of media including photography, installation, sound, painting, drawing, sculpture, and film. Now in our ninth year, the 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series continues to support emerging artists and to provide a dedicated forum for the exhibition of new work.

Cover image: Aki Shibata, First Dates (installation view), 2013.


The 3rd Floor Emerging Artist Series is made possible through funding by the Jerome Foundation.