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Photo by Chelzee Lemm-Thompson Jordan Moenkedick stands in front of her farm in Deer Creek that got hit by the tornadoes. Moenkedick's portrait is part of Chelzee Lemm-Thompson's showing.

Visual tornado

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A Minneapolis art student and Alexandria native is telling tornado survivors' stories through portraits and photos.

Chelzee Lemm-Thompson's senior art show runs from Friday, Dec. 3 to Friday, Dec. 10, at the main gallery of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. A reception will follow the commencement ceremony on Dec. 10.

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Lemm-Thompson, a photography student, conducted a total of nine interviews with 13 Wadena area tornado survivors.

"It was a great project. The people of Wadena were amazing. They were very welcoming," Lemm-Thompson said.

Part of the project was a book she said she hopes to get published in the future. Lemm-Thompson will have two copies at the show. She said the first part of the book consists of photographs she took six days after the storm.

The second part includes rebuilding and interviews, with borrowed and scanned photos of immediate tornado damage from survivors juxtaposed with quotes as well as her own work and photo portraits of the individuals interviewed.

The third section of the book is the product of an art therapy workshop she held for elementary school students in second through sixth grade.

"I had them write about the changes that they saw in Wadena," Lemm-Thompson said. "Also, I had them write letters to people in the future who might go through the same thing that they went through and any words of advice that they'd give them."

The 11 kids wrote about their experiences and drew pictures to go with them.

"I learned a lot about communities and how they come together," Lemm-Thompson said.

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