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.…

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…

Maria de Los Angeles tells “Migration Stories”

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…

Honoring Immigrant Heritage and Refugee Awareness Month

For the past five and a half years, Creative Exchange has been a vehicle for highlighting artists of all different types, from all different backgrounds, and from all corners of America. During this time, we have made a conscious effort to focus on artists from marginalized communities who might struggle to have their voices heard otherwise. And in the past three years especially, we have made…

Al-Bustan plants the seeds of Arab culture and community in Philadelphia

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture started in Philadelphia in 2002 when founder and executive director Hazami Sayed wanted a place for her two young sons to go where they would learn and apply the Arabic language. “It was certainly driven by self-interest,” she says. “My husband and I grew up in the Middle East and came to the United States for our college studies. We wanted our boys to be bilingual…

Jer Thorp creates data-based public art to engage and empower communities

Jer Thorp is an accomplished public speaker—check out some of his selected talks here—and an artist based in New York who has participated in highly visible public art projects, like designing the algorithm for the placement of the nearly 3,000 names on the 9/11 Memorial. But he describes himself as a “data artist,” which begs the question…what exactly is a “data artist?” “It's a term that I…

Maamoul Press prints comics by Middle Eastern women, for Middle Eastern women (and everyone else, too)

Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author and illustrator living in Detroit. As an author and artist, she has tabled at zine and comics shows, but felt that there was room at her table—both literally and figuratively, as it were—for more than just her own work. She launched Bigmouth Press & Comix in 2016 with that in mind: first starting as a blog profiling different Middle Eastern women…

Five Years of Creative Exchange!

February 20, 2014 was the day that we launched Creative Exchange. I had just become a father, and here was another baby about to go out into the world. We launched the site with a handful of artist profiles, six toolkits to download, and some big hopes for the platform. Would people be interested in stories about artists and their work in community? Would the toolkits be useful to creative…

Dana Sikkila takes Project Bike all over the state of Minnesota

Visual artist Dana Sikkila grew up in Litchfield, a farm town in West Central Minnesota with a population of a little over 6,000 people. She describes her family and the area she grew up as being "very blue collar;" an area without much in the way of cultural or artistic outlets or diversity. "People always ask me, 'Did you grow up in a really creative household or community?' There's this…

Leila Awadallah dances stories of Palestine

Leila Awadallah, a 2018-2019 Springboard for the Arts 20/20 Artist Fellow, moved to Minneapolis from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to study dance before she had a sense of the kind of artist she is. “I just knew I loved to move and express myself through movement and dance,” she laughs. Her practice involves dance, movement, and choreography, specifically in the realm of storytelling, and…

Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists

Developed by Springboard for the Arts, Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists is based on a series of professional development and entrepreneurship workshops that have been taught to more than 5,000 artists at arts organizations, colleges, and libraries in over 80 communities in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa since 2010. Work of Art is a 12-part workbook and video…

Ujima Theatre Company uses theatre to foster self-determined communities

The work of Springboard for the Arts is rooted in arts-based economic and community development. We believe artists are critical assets in that work, and support them by offering a variety of resources that enable them to make both a living and a life. This is why Springboard is a member of the New Economy Coalition (NEC): because we believe in the vision of a new economy, one that is just,…

Wesley Fawcett Creigh asks people what makes them feel like they belong

Wesley Fawcett Creigh grew up in rural Vermont in what she describes as a "very homogenous zone." In high school she got excited about the arts, but she couldn't figure out how to apply that to "real life." So right after graduating she moved to Mexico to take part in a coral reef conservation program because she thought she wanted to be a biologist. "I was this total country bumpkin dropped…

Meet Loriann Hernandez, Riverside’s “Art Hustling Roller Skating Ninja”

Loriann Hernandez – also known as "Elle Seven" – describes herself as an "Art Hustling Roller Skating Ninja." While the overlap between street art and skating culture is nothing new, the way Hernandez's skating converged with her art is a bit of a different "spin" on a familiar narrative. Hernandez is based in Riverside, California, where her family has roots that stretch back over 100 years.…

Graffiti Camp for Girls is breaking up the boys’ club of street art

"I was a disgruntled teenager. My mom moved us out to the country while I was still in high school and there was nothing to do. I basically just wanted to get into trouble," says Nina Wright, aka Girl Mobb, on how she first got into graffiti painting on barns in rural Ohio. Though her initial interest in street art was because it offered her a way to "get into trouble," she found she was…

It’s not enough to just Get Artists Paid; it’s time to stage an Art.Exit

The work of Springboard for the Arts is rooted in arts-based economic and community development. We believe artists are critical assets in that work, and support them by offering a variety of resources that enable them to make both a living and a life. This is why Springboard is a member of the New Economy Coalition (NEC): because we believe in the vision of a new economy, one that is just,…

5 Questions with Creative Exchange: What we have learned from our artists

Since August 2016, Creative Exchange has been asking each of our Artists With Impact a series of five questions, which appear at the end of every profile. We did this to create a thread of continuity from one profile to the next: whether we're interviewing the head of a multi-million-dollar arts organization in a major city or a solo artist from the Alaskan Bush, we want our readers – which…

Connecting Americans to Healthcare

I’ve said it on this platform before, but artists need access to healthcare. In fact, everyone needs access to healthcare, but artists, who often work non-traditional jobs and have sporadic income, especially need the protections of the Affordable Care Act. I know that the ACA is not perfect, and we need to take steps to fix its flaws, but this is important for our creative communities. Just like…

Honoring Inuit culture through traditional tattoos

Holly Mititquq Nordlum is an Inupiaq artist born in Kotzebue, an Inuit village in the Northwest Arctic Borough of Alaska. As an artist, she has followed a lifelong call that has led her to painting, sculpture, graphic design, photography, printmaking, jewelry making, and now filmmaking. "I blame my mom," she laughs. "She was an artist herself. I blame her for giving me permission to follow…

Art for healing the military-civilian divide

This is the first of a two-part feature on art and veterans. Read second story here. The challenges facing military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers today are “more than the traditional medical model can solve.” That’s a quote from a 2016 briefing published by the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military, and it sums up a complex confluence of…

A small area plan with big ambitions: Frogtown’s illustrated SMAPL is a document of tactical urbanism

A "small area plan" is a very common development document for individual districts within a city. Typically the stuff of purely esoteric urban planner interest, these are documents containing focused plans that address issues in specific areas of the city. While every city has several sitting on their shelves, they aren't exactly known for being engaging reading material, nor do they see many…

Train-the-Trainer Intensive recap

In July, Springboard for the Arts held the first Train-the-Trainer Intensive, a “summer camp for artist organizers, creative community development folks and creative economy nerds,” according to the National Endowment for the Arts. 28 attendees from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Arizona came to Saint Paul,…

What would happen if the NEA were defunded, and why should we care?

It has been a little over six months since Donald Trump took office, and a lot has happened during that time. Although the budgeting process for the federal government is a long and arduous process which has only just begun, the Trump administration's initial budget proposal raises important questions that are relevant to address. In particular for organizations and individuals working in the…

New Haven’s Elm City Mosaic

This story is supported by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Knowledge Building grant supporting a partnership between Springboard for the Arts and the International Downtown Association. See more stories from the partnership here. When the city of New Haven, CT, began construction on Route 34 in the 1960s, the idea was that it would connect the city to its suburbs in the Lower…

Rural Arts & Culture Summit Videos

The Rural Arts & Culture Summit was held from June 6-8 in Morris, MN, and it was magical. 400 artists, community development professionals, leaders, and advocates from 22 states came to the town of 5,000 people in the rolling Minnesota farmland to share ideas, practical steps, and paths forward together. Look for more writing, photos and coverage of the Summit to come, and check out the…