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#ArtConnectsUs September 2020

Hennepin Theatre Trust partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor to produce Art Connects Us, a digital public art project. The project features original artwork by Minnesota-based artists presenting images and messages of hope to those affected by COVID-19 and gratitude for the people working on the front lines.

The Trust has expanded the scope of Art Connects Us to include reactions to the local and national conversations demanding the breakdown of systemic racism. The September round of Art Connects Us features a mixture of work from other artists creating work expressing gratitude for COVID-19 frontline workers and participating in a conversation on dismantling systemic racism in Minnesota and around the country.

“This injustice in our city and beyond must not be ignored,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “While the arts can be a source of unity, we are committed to joining other voices in the community that are calling for equity and justice in Minnesota.”

The Time is Now!!! by Ta-coumba T. Aiken

Brightly colored intricate coloring hook like lines of flowing and rhythmic move of mask like faces and figures. Vibrant motion. “The Time is Now!”

Public Artist & Art Activist: Ta-coumba T. Aiken’s public role as an artist is “community-building and beautification. “I create my art to heal the hearts of the people and their communities by evoking a positive spirit.” He gives his audience a continuous experience that is subtle and dynamic. Aiken believes his role is to listen, interpret and inspire, becoming a weaver of ideas. His work is interactive, a silent, uninterrupted dialogue between the viewer and the artwork.

More: Tacoumba on Facebook

Emerging by Kprecia Ambers

We never know what we are capable of until we are pushed. This is the beauty that comes out of hard times. Through our darkest and toughest moments, we will emerge as a stronger individual with new perspective. The butterflies in my piece signify us evolving and flying towards new beginnings as our spirits remain hopeful.

Kprecia uses illustration as a tool to empower, collaborate with businesses, celebrate her culture, and create home décor catered to black girls. Her hope is to inspire others like her to build their own door and pursue their dreams.

More: Kpinspires.com; Kp Inspires on Facebook; @kpinspires on Instagram

Dream Big – Live Black by Daniel Brevick

We are clearly not where we need to be. Social justice will eventually take the day, and stupidity will sink into the ground. To LIVE BLACK is to know where you came from, to know where you are, and to know where you are going. If you're NOT black to LIVE BLACK means you will bury stupidity as quickly as you see it. Let’s keep fighting. Let’s Dream Big.

From Daniel Brevick: I’m an artist, photographer, peacemaker. I apply the arts to affect positive change in myself and hope to motivate others. Art can tell stories, and a well-told story brings awareness. Sometimes change.

More: black.studio

Elders Are Essential by Camille Gage, Jim Dryden and Scott Streble

Not Expendable. The Covid-19 pandemic is having far-reaching effects on our nation and our communities; some elected representatives have argued that older Americans should be willing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of the national economy. There exists a mistaken belief that allowing the most vulnerable to die would end the pandemic sooner and lead to a quicker economic recovery. In fact, allowing more deaths would likely increase economic instability. The Covid-19 public health crisis and our nation’s economic health are inextricably linked. The billboard image created for Elders Are Essential will capture the vibrancy of Minnesota’s elders and illustrate the fact that no one is expendable, and all lives are precious and valued.

Camille Gage is a Minneapolis artist and writer inspired by the intersection of art and political expression. Gage believes artists have a role to play in shaping the public consciousness and creating a more compassionate and equitable world. For the Not Expendable billboard she collaborated with Scott Streble and Jim Dryden. Streble is a photographer best known for his documentary photographs of people, using an approach that portrays his subjects with honesty and dignity. Dryden is an artist and illustrator who draws inspiration from many diverse cultural and ethnic traditions.

More: gageart.net; scottstreble.com; jimdryden.com

Repair the Economic Breach by Andrew K. Hammond

Miriam Webster Dictionary defines the word minority as the smaller in number of two groups, constituting a whole. Native black Americans are the minority in our country and yet, in the inner city dominating in number of COVID-19 cases. It almost as seems like an oxymoron that, the least can have the most. This is solely due to a breach in healthy equity and economics. This disparity impacts all communities and classes.

From Andrew K. Hammond: My work focuses on expressing the culture, history and future of people in the African-American diaspora, which is an important undertaking in a society filled with historical mythology. Critics speak of my versatility, and expressive work through collages which provoke thought and create visual disputation and resolve. I will never concede to having the torch of my hero, Romare Bearden (1911-1988), but confess that my torch has been lit by Bearden, George Grosz (1893-1959) Minnesota’s Mel Smith and “Dame” Judy Bowman.

More: A Drew Hammond on Facebook; @adrewhammond on Instagram

Stop The Spread by Christopher E. Harrison

My billboard consists of a four panel graphic "strip" using digital illustrations that reminds the viewer of the process to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The theme of Wash your hands, Wear protection, Wait for safety, For a healthy World is graphically presented under the title "Remember to Stop The Spread."

Christopher E. Harrison is an Ohio native who received his BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH. Harrison currently lives and works his studio practice in Minneapolis as a visual artist, illustrator and graphic designer. He is currently a Museum Arts Educator at Walker Art Center.

More: harrisonartstudio.net; Christopher E. Harrison on Facebook; @genothehag on Instagram

We Are All Connected by Keren Kroul

The original was a watercolor on paper painting, 5’x8’ feet. I turned it into a 4”x14” design with text “We are all connected”. Thousands of watercolor marks are repeated, accumulated, and layered. Lines and shapes create patterns, networks, and pathways. Pulsating, shifting, and stirring, linking across space and time, they form a dense and fluid rhythmic structure. From tiny to monumental, everything is interrelated. This work is an offering of gratitude to those on the front lines, to those affected by COVID-19, and to those worried about what will come. Our individual choices and actions impact the wellbeing of others. Our small contribution forms and shapes the whole. We are all in this together, because we are all connected.

Keren is a recipient of 2015, 2017, and 2019 Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her work has been featured in MN Original, and in print publications such as Paint Lab, Color Lab and Tangled Art. She holds an MFA in Painting from Parsons School of Design.

More: kerenkroul.com

Justified by Jayda Joy Mc

This digital media was created to represent justice that belongs to everyone. People of all shades and colors. Brick by brick we can raise our hands and voices to combat the forces in an unjust world. We should never feel justified seeing our neighbors suffer under the cruel truth of systematic racism.

Jayda is an exceptional middle school student who has been sketching and painting since she was three years old. She enjoys math, science and volunteering with student council and her Girl Scout troop. Her current focus is animation, digital art and multimedia compositions. Her goal is to be a successful independent artist, comic book publisher and child psychologist.

Social Justice Now by Steven Premo

Steven addresses Social Justice with the direction pointing towards the "Now watch", referring to the time of course, he draws our attention to the call for justice being long overdue and declaring that Now! IS the time. In creating the artwork, Steven focused on readily identifiable icons: "Social Justice Power Fist", always a staple image for creating interest. "Feathers", denoting his heritage and signaling native support in the cause. "Inverse Flag", a universal sign of distress. In being broken or deconstructed, implies it is an even more dire situation. "Stars", representing the 11 Tribal Nations in Minnesota.

Reservation and inner city raised, Steven is a self-taught artist and designer. His work takes many forms including graphic designer, illustrator, fine artist, muralist, and fabric designer. He is a husband and a strong indigenous advocate.

Archaic Remedies by Connor Rice (CRICE)

The artwork features a diverse array of healing symbols. The figure in the image represents humankind’s tie to nature and search for esoteric remedies. The cross-cultural origins of the iconography highlight the interconnectivity of our modern communities. The colors, composition and the icons are all designed to yield a therapeutic, restorative effect. The background elements relate to the importance of cosmic synchronization in our daily life. When communities face challenges to health and harmony there must be a remedy for both the body and the spirit. This piece seeks to deliver a message to alleviate the psychic disharmony that has permeated during this crisis.

From Connor Rice: I’m a mixed-media artist from Minneapolis. I take visual inspiration from hieroglyphs and graffiti. My work chronicles the issues and motifs of pan-Africanist realities across time and space. By employing ancient symbols and blending them with a modern sensibility, my art seeks to distort our preconceived notions of human history.

More: criceinternational.com; @cricekahlil on Instagram