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Funding recognizes Minnesota’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color artists and their work created at the intersection of cultural art and activism.

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation today announced that Art in This Present Moment, a Foundation initiative with funding from the McKnight Foundation, has for the second year provided grants to support the work of Minnesota artists who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). This year’s grantees are artists selected by Twin Cities nonprofits In Black Ink and In Progress and Bemidji-based Manidoo Ogitigaan.

“We are honored to again support BIPOC artists across Minnesota,” said Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Foundation. “Through times of change, we look to art for truth and healing. This has been especially true during the ongoing pandemic and our collective efforts to create a more just and equitable state. These talented artists help us to better understand ourselves and others, while they interpret this present moment in time through their chosen artistic medium.”

The three organizations were each invited by the Foundation to select two artists. Each artist or artist collective received $9,000 for work created in real time that reflected themes and stories important to their community.

“The artists selected this year represent excellence in their genres and have a unique ability to capture individual perspectives and experiences that uplift the critical importance of justice and cultural understanding,” said Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with the Foundation in supporting these visual expressions of artistic voice, perspective and heritage.”

AITPM Kazua 07

Photography by Kazua Melissa Vang

AITPM Robin 55

Dolls by Robin Hickman-Winfield

AITPM Thomas 17

Beadwork by Thomas Stillday, Jr.

AITPM Broderick 14

Patchwork by Broderick Poole

About the Artists

Following are brief descriptions of the nonprofits and awarded artists and their projects. Hear their stories and view their artistry at: spmcf.org/art; follow the artists at #ArtInThisMoment.

In Black Ink provides publishing arts opportunities to African heritage communities that have been historically disenfranchised and continue to experience exclusion. Programming mitigates economic, educational and cultural inequities.

  • Broderick Poole is a visual artist in handcrafted art and founder of fashion line Vintage Poole Boy. His project shines a light on prominent Black activists and leaders through the custom Heritage/Truth Boy jacket patchwork he designed. Images of leaders will be created in patchwork; their stories will be shared with students in a classroom setting located in the neighborhood of Poole’s youth.
  • Robin Hickman-Winfield, the grand-niece of legendary photographer Gordon Parks, celebrates and portrays stories, elegance, beauty and talent through “lifestyles in miniature” multi-ethnic doll artistry. In the Soulful Dolls Journey gallery and social media exhibit, visitors experience "lifestyles in miniature," inspiring doll artistry which uniquely presents positive and powerful imagery of family, community and history, with a splash of social commentary.

In Progress has since 1996 paved the way for new voices in digital artmaking from the Twin Cities and Minnesota’s rural areas by providing opportunities for artists of all ages to develop their skills as digital storytellers and leaders through photography, video and music.

  • Melissa Kazua Vang is a visual artist who uses photography and mixed media art to preserve the legacy of her father and to tell the stories of her family and Hmong heritage. Photography and journal entries expressing the love for her father, family and canned goods are captured in her book titled “PRESERVE.”
  • Xavier Tavera is a photographer, community organizer and educator known for his portraits of the Latino community. His photographic project documents the transplantation and flourishment of specific Mexican cultural activities, from Charreria – livestock herding - to organic farming that, although essential to the U.S. economy, remains overlooked by the mainstream community.

Manidoo Ogitigaan is a grassroots Native-led nonprofit based in Bemidji, Minnesota. The mission of Manidoo Ogitigaan is to work with its communities to preserve and revitalize the spiritual knowledge, language, culture, and ceremonies of the Anishinaabeg in order to improve the health of its members.

  • Manidoo Ogitigaan Artist Collective’s birch bark canoe-building project featured artists: Zac Earley (White Earth Ojibwe); Ty Stately (Red Lake Ojibwe); Kevin Rosebear (Red Lake Ojibwe); Robert Fineday (Red Lake Ojibwe), Victoria Fineday (Red Lake Ojibwe), Kaitlyn Grenier, Rachel Austin (Black/ Catawba); and Laban Smith (Walpole Island First Nation).
  • Thomas Stillday, Jr. is an Indigenous beadwork artist who mixes unique stitching techniques with a distinct choice of colors to distinguish his beadwork style. He has made work using the lazy stitch style of beading mixed with appliqué flatwork. He currently uses appliqué flatwork beadwork to create unique Ojibwe designs.

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