Artists with Impact

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 a…


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 recently…


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 heal the…


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,…


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 art.…


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 people…


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…


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 Mexico,…


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" "E" "T" "son" – "and I grew up watching The…


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, and…


The business community comes together to support the arts in downtown Fresno

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.…


Pillsbury House Theatre breaks the ice and serves the community

What does it mean to be a "community theatre"? What does it mean to be an arts organization "for the community"? When we talk about community, and about arts organizations with deep commitments to…


ArtVenture connects the dots between visitors and public art in downtown Cincinnati

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.…


Little Fyodor Leads Charge to Keep Denver Weird

For three decades running, weirdo DJ and musician Little Fyodor and his bandmate and partner-in-abnormality, Babushka, have fought to keep Denver strange. There are few who are keeping Denver weirder…


Michael O'Bryan helps people to find sanctuary in art

Sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. In urban neighborhoods all throughout America, sanctuary is a luxury almost beyond attainment. But Michael O'Bryan is working to bring that sense of…


Newark's Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District embraces the transformative power of music

Lincoln Park is an 11-acre, four-block neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. In the late 1990s, the area became a focus of conversation on redevelopment efforts, with a series of charrettes – planning…


Upcycle Parts Shop engages the community though creative reuse

Nicole McGee has been a self-described "reuse artist" for several years, but her practice wasn't always her profession. Her background is in the nonprofit sector, doing work in PR and marketing,…


Sara Daleiden focuses on cultural production and exchange in various roles of public arts leadership

In common use, "cultural exchange" tends to mean an exchange of ideas, customs, or practices between people of different countries. But "culture" isn't simply defined from one country to another; in…


Remembering Blake Brockington, Charlotte's first openly trans homecoming king, through music

Blake Brockington was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the bandleader and a drum major, and known as a talented musician and writer as well as a caring mentor. He was also crowned…


The Akron Art Museum will make art an everyday experience with their art library lending program

We all know how libraries work: you find a book (or maybe an academic journal, magazine, DVD, even a music CD) that you would like to check out with your library card, issued for free usually with…


Brigid Baker practices a holistic approach to contemporary dance in Miami

Brigid Baker, Director of 6th Street Dance Studio and progressive contemporary dance company WholeProject in Miami's Little Havana, has been a dancer, a choreographer, a teacher, an installation…


Brenda Hernandez leads the HOMAGO way

Brenda Hernandez is a Program Coordinator for Yollocalli Arts Reach, an award-winning program of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago offering free arts and culture programming to teens and…