Artists with Impact

Spencer Merolla uses ashes and the visual language of mourning in her post-election art

Spencer Merolla says she has been interested in art for as long as she can remember, having grown up with a mother who was an artist herself. But when she attended Wesleyan University she pursued a...


Ian Trask transforms one man's trash into another's treasure

Ian Trask didn’t study art in school. Instead, he studied science, with the intention of pursuing a career in research and being able to “pursue something novel and new every day for the...


The Center for Media Justice addresses inequality in our media-saturated digital world

At a time when legitimate news sources are decried as “fake news” by our country’s political leadership and fear-mongering partisan websites that specialize is sensational stories...


Free Music for Free People builds a community for youth musicians in Denver

When Mona Magno – aka “Monalicious” – first had the idea to form Free Music for Free People in Denver, it was because, as a musician with many musician friends, she wanted to be...


Theatre artist Haley Honeman works to break the silence around suicide

Haley Honeman is a theatre artist who grew up rural Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities where she earned a degree in theatre arts with a minor in Spanish,...


Photographer Tom Kiefer documents the things that are carried across the border

In Tim O’Brien’s short story “The Things They Carried,” the items each of the soldiers choose to carry with them through the grueling jungles of Vietnam become an allegory for...


Jaclyn Roessel is Grownup Navajo

For nearly a year now, members of the Standing Rock tribe located in North Dakota along with other supporters of environmental protection have protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline,...


Artist Hassan Nor draws old world vision of Somalia for new generation

In a high-rise tower located on Portland Avenue lives Hassan Nor, a Somali immigrant. Most of the residents in the building, like Nor, are seniors. He lives in a one-bedroom apartment by himself and...


Singer-songwriter Mayyadda explores new sound and shows Black musicians ‘are not a monolith’

Two years ago, if you had told Mayyadda Munkunjae that she would be performing at Minneapolis’ Dakota Jazz Club, where the likes of Prince, Esperanza Spalding and Vusi Mahlesela have graced the...


The Mexican Woman's Post Apocalyptic Survival Guide in the Southwest and other stories of life on the border from M. Jenea Sánchez

Photographer M. Jenea Sánchez grew up in Douglas, Arizona, a city that shares a border with Mexico. She remembers crossing the border to and from Agua Prieta multiple times every day as a child –...


Warren Montoya has created something that Rezonates

Santa Ana Pueblo/Santa Clara Pueblo artist Warren Montoya knows a little something about resilience. Though he has been an artist since childhood, drawn to the art of comic books and surrealism – he...


Poet Ursula Rucker uses rage to find humanity

On April 21, 2016, the world collectively mourned in purple as we learned of the death of one of pop music’s most enigmatic icons, Prince Rogers Nelson. Philadelphia poet Ursula Rucker was among...


Artist Chamindika Wanduragala takes on motherhood and race through puppets

I. Rebirth When Sri Lankan artist Chamindika Wanduragala returned to the Twin Cities arts scene after almost a decade away, it was a much needed rebirth. A visual artist by training (having earned a...


Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher dreams while walking on the ground

Philadelphia might best be known as the City of Brotherly Love, but it could also be called the City of Poets for its dedication to supporting and promoting the literary form. With a citywide Poet...


Place-based art project Water Bar addresses disparities in drinking water access

“Welcome to Water Bar, water is all we have.” These are the words that greeted me as I walked through the door. Immediately, Shanai Matteson, co-owner of Water Bar & Public Studio, offered me...


Women-led Community Artists Leadership Initiative brings arts funding to the 99 percent

When Desdamona, Julia Nekessa Opoti, May Lee-Yang and Saymoukda Vongsay, co-founders of the Twin Cities-based Community Artists Leadership Initiative (CALI), are sitting at the same table, ideas fly...


Lisa Jo Epstein encourages just acts through Just Act, using applied theatre in community development

Philadelphia-based theatre director, educator, and community artist Lisa Jo Epstein has spent 27 years working in the realm of applied theatre. She calls her latest project, Just Act – which...


Beth Grossman encourages civic engagement through participatory art

Beth Grossman has worked as an artist full-time for the past 25 years. As a social practice artist, she creates site-specific experiential work designed to engage the public in matters of political...


Tia Richardson is an integrative community artist making an impact in Milwaukee

Tia Richardson describes herself as an “integrative community artist.” She works as a muralist, teacher, and bridge builder in Milwaukee, leading visual arts projects designed to help...


Dylan Yellowlees is creating an LGBT arts festival for everyone in Akron

Dylan Yellowlees moved to Akron two years ago to work at the Akron Civic Theatre. Having come from Atlanta, where there is a strong LGBT presence with a huge pride festival, an LGBT film festival, and...


The Democratic Cup wants to bring people together in conversation over a cup of coffee

It has been nearly two weeks since the 2016 presidential election was called in favor of Donald Trump. In those two weeks there have been protests, riots, and a rash of hate crimes some have said is...


Ceramicist Blayze Buseth creates Legacy Vessels to memorialize loved ones

Blayze Buseth has been interested in ceramics since a very young age. The Fergus Falls-based ceramicist says while he had always been interested in drawing and art, it was ceramic materials that he...


Making political art great again: t. Rutt takes the T.RUMP bus on the road

In the more light-hearted corners of the Internet, it has been jokingly suggested that Donald Trump’s entire bizarre presidential campaign has really just been an elaborate piece of performance...


Advances in neurotech combines with classical music in filmmaker Jonathan David Kane's Corpus Callosum

Miami-based filmmaker Jonathan David Kane has had a camera in his hand for as long as he can remember, despite growing up in the 1980s at a time when video recording equipment wasn’t something...


Exploring the Art of Conversation at the Urban Consulate

What is the art of conversation? A salon is a social gathering to exchange ideas, a celebration of the art of conversation dating back to 16th century Italy, though most closely associated with the...


Whithervanes track fear in the media

History will ultimately decide how future generations look back on the 2016 election cycle and general social climate of this time, but there is little question that one of the biggest antagonists in...


Dread Scott is a revolutionary artist whose work takes an unflinching look at Black lives in America

In 1857, Dred Scott, an enslaved Black man, unsuccessfully sued for his freedom on the grounds that he, along with his wife and daughters, had lived in free territories for four years. In the infamous...


Fran Ilich believes another world is possible

Fran Ilich grew up in Tijuana next to the San Diego border. As a “border kid” in Mexico, Ilich has spent his life existing in a space somewhere in between – not quite Latin enough for...


Jetsonorama creates social justice-minded murals on the rez

Chip Thomas is Jetsonorama, and he has a funny story behind that name. Chip Thomas, aka “Jetsonorama” “Well, I’m the son of James Edward Thomas” – “J”...


Design Studio for Social Intervention uses design to change the way social justice is imagined

Kenneth Bailey is one of the founders of Boston’s Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI), an artistic organization that uses design to change how social justice is imagined, developed,...