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About the program

We Are Still Here is a multiyear collaborative partnership between Hennepin Arts, the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and All My Relations Arts (AMRA) to bring large-scale, high-profile public artworks to the Hennepin Theatre District and the American Indian Culture Corridor. This ongoing and evolving initiative seeks to match emerging Native artists with established Native arts mentors in an extending fellowship that creates a variety of public art works which promote Native and Indigenous storytelling in the community along Hennepin Avenue, throughout the greater Twin Cities metro area and the American Indian Cultural Corridor.

Each cohort will work closely with their mentor, Hennepin Arts and NACDI over the course of several months to create a learning experience tailored to their individual styles, goals and needs as artists. The artists and their mentor will work and learn together, creating in an artistic medium individual to each cohort. Past cohorts have designed murals, digital artwork, animations and projections.

The 2023-2024 artist cohort will focus on the process, practice and techniques which make up community art. Through implementing a practice based in community care, community listening and responsiveness, the medium of community art is characterized by a dialogue with the community and often involves a professional artist collaborating with individuals within the community who may not otherwise engage in the arts. The work of community artists in this regard is designed to inform, engage, provoke and inspire while reflecting the community they serve.

These artworks will be exhibited and displayed in multiple formats throughout the run of each program. The cohort experience culminates in a final capstone project of their own choosing, allowing the artists to take the skills and resources they have gained and move their work to the next level. Aside from the technical aspects of developing public art, We Are Still Here is meant to equip the artists to generate opportunities for community engagement beyond the artists themselves. Each capstone project reflects the unique nature of the artist’s exploration of Native Truth-Telling as it intersects with their intended location, supplying a platform which allows them to create engaging and though-provoking public art that boldly reimagines and restores historical and contemporary narratives which have been subjugated or otherwise minimized and negated.

Engaging with Native artists and communities has been the mission of NACDI since its founding in 2007. According to Angela Two Stars, director of NACDI’s All My Relations Arts, “by interweaving contemporary and traditional storytelling and the allyship of Indigenous communities here in the Twin Cities, we are able to connect the Dakota history of the land and continued connections to our past using the powerful visuals of our contemporary artists.” NACDI’s long-standing commitment to public engagement has enabled them to be a source of leadership and guidance among its network of Native artists and communities, and the perfect collaborative partner for the We Are Still Here program.

“Hennepin Theatre Trust is immensely proud to partner with NACDI once again to uplift Native and Indigenous voices through our We Are Still Here initiative,” said Todd Duesing, president and CEO of Hennepin Arts. “I look forward to seeing this year’s cohort of artists grow their skills and express their experiences to a broader community. Now more than ever it is important to continue to weave Native and Indigenous culture back into the fabric of Hennepin Avenue, enabling public art and placemaking efforts that recognize our past and connect our arts and cultural experiences to their roots.”

Meet the We Are Still Here Cohort