Jaime Carrejo’s sculpture installations force viewers to see “the border” differently

Jaime Carrejo has been making art since before he even knew what “art” was. He just knew he liked to make things, experiment with different materials and surfaces, maybe do some painting, maybe burn some things in the backyard (as curious kids do). As his art education progressed through high school, college, and graduate school, his creative motivation came from exploring the idea of…

Photographer Xavier Tavera documents the Latinx community from one border to the other

Xavier Tavera remembers picking up a camera when he was 11 or 12 years old and fell in love with photography immediately. To this day, he says, that “magical feeling” he gets from photography still hasn’t gone away. His family immigrated to Minneapolis from Mexico City in 1996, and after that his photography changed completely. “Just the sense of being here as a Latino and as a Mexican…

Collective Magpie explores the concepts of race and identity in cultural borderlands

“Collective Magpie = Tae Hwang & MR Barnadas + Participants” So says the equation at the top of the Collective Magpie website, and it is meant to underscore the fact that they function as a “collective” outside of just themselves as the leading artists. All of the work of this nomadic collective is in the public domain, created in collaboration with community participants. Hwang and…

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 the human cost of the war itself. Photographer Tom Kiefer's project El Sueño Americano ("The American Dream") similarly looks at the human cost of war through the items people choose to carry with them across impossible…

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 – to go to school, to visit her cousins. The border itself was less a barrier and more a region of its own: a person is not "from" one side of the border or the other, but from the border itself. M.…

Imagine futures with heather c. lou

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay tried — and failed — to buy art from heather c. lou. She was strolling through Appleby Hall at the University of Minnesota, where both women worked at the time, exploring an exhibition of lou’s art. “I was like, ‘Wow, I really want one of these,’” Vongsay said. But that art wasn’t for sale. “What can be for sale?” she countered. “I'll make you something,” lou said.…

Ayolanda Mack Builds Up Black Families

Ayolanda Mack is a rebel and an idea generator. She didn’t always see herself that way. Mack comes from a long matrilineal line of artists, and art is one way she reveals her rebellious side. It’s a common channel for the ideas she generates too. Mack’s maternal grandmother was a seamstress. When Mack speaks of her mother as an artist, she says “my mom is an artist, but she doesn’t like to…

Zaraawar Mistry is in Dreamland

Zaraawar Mistry gets the job done. In India, he says, his last name translates to “worker” or “laborer.” “Sometimes it's used for a carpenter,” he explains, “but if the electrician comes, you might refer to the electrician as a ‘mistry.’ Or the bricklayer.” At Springboard, Mistry helps run the Artist Career Consultant program; coordinates schedules; processes payments; and more. In his…

Maia Maiden’s Golden Brain, Dedication to Dance

Maia Maiden has a golden brain. People with golden brains are said to be equally adept at right hemisphere (creative thinking) and left hemisphere (logical thinking) functioning. As proof of her aptitude for analytical thinking and rational processing, Maiden is an accomplished lab scientist. Her right brain facility is evident in her work as a hip-hop artist. Throughout her academic career,…

Laura Youngbird Knows We Need Art

Laura Youngbird’s art isn’t pretty, and she doesn’t want it to be. Her striking pieces convey the reality of many Native people in America in all its harshness. Laura draws inspiration from her Native background (she is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa, Grand Portage Band) as well as from lived experience and family. As a visual artist, she is well-versed in printmaking, drawing, and…

Ka Oskar Ly Creates Connections and Understanding

As a kid growing up in France, Ka Oskar Ly wasn’t sure how to define “being Hmong.” Their parents were refugees, having fled Laos after the Secret War. “My parents didn't talk about who we were,” Ly says. “They just said, ‘You have to be Hmong.’” Now, Ly lives in St. Paul, along with an estimated 60,000 other Hmong Americans. She says being around other Hmong people — seeing them on the bus or at…

Felix Foster has Stories to Tell

In an arts world of critics and gatekeepers, Felix Foster invites artists into his life and sends them off with a knapsack of knowledge. He entered the publishing world as a high schooler, helping select and edit submissions to the Saint Paul Almanac. Since then, he has become the series’ editor-in-chief, and when he’s not creating or editing stories, he is lending his expertise to emerging…

Fair Warning, Herbert Johnson III Is Here to Dance

Herbert Johnson III has a whole persona. He has a moniker he uses when he’s performing, when he’s Krumping. His moniker is “Fair Warning.” He also goes by “JDot Tight Eyex” sometimes. Johnson said his “character is the quiet creative kid in the back of the class that bullies like to mess with but then it backfires on them.” He that his persona “is based on actual experiences.” Here’s how it…

Dana Sikkila Flies Her Flag for Creativity

According to Dana Sikkila, she graduated high school “by the skin of teeth.” Months later, she earned a 4.0 in her first semester of college. She attributes the drastic change to the availability of hands-on theater and art courses — “classes where I was around creative adults,” Sikkila explains — in college. Ever since that first semester, she has soaked up textbooks’ worth of learning about…

Adaptations to Meet the Moment and Keep Engaged

This profile is part of a three-part series that highlights the work of five NeighborWorks network organizations that pursued new or expanded partnerships with artists or arts-based organizations to better understand, elevate and address issues related to gentrification and displacement in their communities. Using creative methods, the partners developed shared goals and tested new…

Jes Reyes, Artist We Admire

Editor’s note: As the national platform for Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange has long been a platform to highlight the artists, resources, and efforts in our national network. In this pandemic, as Springboard for the Arts’ work is increasingly online and accessible nationally, we’ll be turning the spotlight on Springboard staff and our Artist Career Consultants, to share more about who…

Looking back to the Rural Arts & Culture Summit

The 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit was held in Grand Rapids, MN, October 3-5, 2019. With over 350 attendees coming together to share ideas and opportunities around rural-based creative and community practice, the conversations were critical, collaborative, and hopeful. After the passing of a year that has brought so many unexpected changes and challenges, we wanted to mark the anniversary…

Adia Morris Swanger connects artists & nurtures family

Editor's note: As the national platform for Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange has long been a platform to highlight the artists, resources, and efforts in our national network. In this pandemic, as Springboard for the Arts' work is increasingly online and accessible nationally, we'll be turning the spotlight on Springboard staff and our Artist Career Consultants, to share more about who…

Women of Color in the Arts organizes and mobilizes women of color cultural workers

Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA) just celebrated its 10-year anniversary this past January at the annual Association for Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference in New York, where the organization held its first formal meeting back in 2010. The milestone has had co-founder and founding director Kaisha Johnson doing a lot of reflecting. "It has not been an easy process, but it has been a…

What does it mean to be Black? “The ‘Black Card’ Project” explores ideas around Black identity and belonging

Dominic Moore-Dunson says he was one of the rare boys who started dancing when he was just three years old. "I was a little hyper. I had so much energy. My mom was like, 'Let's put some tap shoes on this one and hopefully he'll come home tired,'" he laughs. His older sister was also in dance class and he just wanted to follow her around all the time anyway, so he was happy to go off to class…

Machine artist Carl Zachmann mobilizes studio in the fight against COVID-19

Over the coming weeks, Creative Exchange will be highlighting artists responding practically to the COVID-19 pandemic with creative solutions to this unprecedented problem. If you know of an artist or organization doing creative work in direct response to this crisis, drop us a line at creativeexchange@springboardforthearts.org. You can also view all of our COVID-19-related coverage here.…

Counting Toe Tags: Hostile Terrain 94 documents the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths

As the 2020 presidential election bears down on us and we find ourselves looking ahead at what is going to most assuredly be a very long, frustrating, emotionally exhausting campaign season, some of us may find the fortitude to endure by keeping in mind what this November's presidential election is really about. This year, more than any other year in living memory, basic human rights are on…

Sioux Falls’ Zach DeBoer loves to paint street lines

When Zach DeBoer graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in art education and an emphasis in print making, he just assumed he would be a teacher. Even when he worked at the college's art gallery and became interested in gallery work, or would put on art shows in local venues around Sioux Falls with his art club, he still assumed he would be a teacher. And he did become a…

Michael Dantzler maps the interconnectedness of Eastover, South Carolina

Michael Dantzler is a full-time photographer, creative, and budding community organizer living in his rural hometown of Eastover, South Carolina, a town of only about 800 people that is predominantly African American. He has been working on projects related to community development in his hometown for several years now. One of his main creative projects is producing a community newsletter for…

Delina White designs apparel and produces fashion shows celebrating and perpetuating Native cultural heritage

This article is part of a series highlighting artists and leaders featured at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, a biennial, practitioner-driven gathering hosted by Springboard for the Arts that celebrates and expands the field of rural arts-based community development. The 2019 Summit will take place October 3 – 5, 2019 at the Reif Center for Performing Arts in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Learn…

Connecting Community in Cedar-Riverside

Jamie Schumacher is the Executive Director of the West Bank Business Association, a partner with Springboard for the Arts and People’s Center Health Services on connecting and celebrating the Cedar-Riverside community on the West Bank, Minneapolis. The creative activities featured in this article are part of a larger project to promote cross-cultural connection and understanding between neighbors…

From Trenton, New Jersey to rural Vermont, Will “Kasso” Condry uses art as a catalyst for activism and revitalization

Will "Kasso" Condry, Jr. is a pioneer of the street art movement in New Jersey, and made national headlines in 2014 when he painted a mural of Michael Brown, the Ferguson teenager who was shot and killed by police despite being unarmed and whose murder sparked several weeks of widely publicized protests. The mural, which included the words "Sagging pants is not probable cause," was covered up by…

Michelle Angela Ortiz uses public art to address detention and deportation issues

Michelle Angela Ortiz is a child of immigrants, born and raised in South Philadelphia—a community she describes as one that has benefited tremendously from the immigrant communities that have migrated into the area. "I live a block away from one of the oldest outdoor markets in the country that has been thriving on the work, sweat, and investment from immigrant families from over 100 years,…

Queer and Undocumented: The Art and Activism of Coming Out, and Coming Out

June is Immigrant Heritage Month as well as Refugee Awareness Month. In solidarity and support, we will run a series of artist profiles and features this month about the experiences of undocumented artists, from a first-of-its-kind fellowship for undocumented artists to LGBTQ artists whose experiences coming out as queer gave them the language to then also “come out” as undocumented. Read the…

Define American is supporting undocumented artists through a first-of-its-kind fellowship

June is Immigrant Heritage Month as well as Refugee Awareness Month. In solidarity and support, we will run a series of artist profiles and features this month about the experiences of undocumented artists, from a first-of-its-kind fellowship for undocumented artists to LGBTQ artists whose experiences coming out as queer gave them the language to then also “come out” as undocumented. Read the…