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Hennepin Theatre Trust announces photographers for the new season of It’s the People highlighting the unique inspirations of humanity

Now in its sixth year, the new cohort presents a “photographer’s choice” selection, celebrating empowerment and talent resonating throughout Minnesota’s diverse and unique communities

MINNEAPOLIS (April 9, 2024) — Hennepin Theatre Trust, in partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, announced today the eight fine art portrait photographers whose work will be featured in the 2024-2025 season of It’s the People, a major outdoor public art project inspired by the exceptional, everyday people who make up our community. Khadija Charif, Krizia, Kayla Hammell, Roosevelt Mansfield, Sofia Mifsud, James Napoli, Christopher Selleck and Tom Smouse were selected for their exceptional artistry in portrait photography and depth of their creative vision. Each photographer brings a unique perspective to their craft, drawing inspiration from personal beliefs, cultural influences and a profound commitment to storytelling through imagery.

Now in its sixth year, It’s the People has invited photographers to present a “photographer’s choice” of subjects resulting in a vibrant mosaic of empowerment echoing across diverse communities in Minnesota. This year’s theme illuminates the myriad of talents, narratives and invaluable contributions from all walks of life. Amidst the kaleidoscope of backgrounds and fields, a unifying thread emerges. There’s a profound sense of recognition, genuine appreciation and resounding acclaim for the rich tapestry of diversity, unwavering resilience and boundless talent that thrives within the heart of Minnesota, deepening our collective identity and forging a path towards greater unity and understanding.

It’s the People embodies the spirit and mission of the Trust, representing our commitment to uplifting our community and fostering inclusivity,” said Todd Duesing, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “This project shines a light on the artists who breathe life into our community, creating an atmosphere of vibrancy and warmth. It’s about celebrating and embracing their tireless efforts, enriching our city to become a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone who wanders our streets and explores our vibrant neighborhood.”

The portraits will be displayed in downtown Minneapolis on large-scale banners on building sides along Hennepin Avenue.

Meet the artists:

Khadija Charif is a visual artist and writer based in Minneapolis.. Born in Somalia, and raised in Belgium and the United States, Khadija’s work examines the relationship between community and self in relation to her faith, gender, race and mobility. She draws on these social-political locations to inform her work as an artist-practitioner. Khadija explores the concept of self-growth, injustice and womanhood in her poetry and through her photography. Using both mediums as a way to stitch her creative thoughts into tangible and physical art. She hopes to share and shed light on the joys and hardships of her experience as a Muslim, Somali woman. Khadija has exhibited her work at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota – Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Macalester College, University of Augsburg, ArtWorks Chicago, Yeah Maybe Gallery and Soomaal House of Arts.

Krizia is a self-taught, Minneapolis-based Filipino photographer who seamlessly weaves artistry and storytelling into the fabric of her photography. Her work is celebrated for its daring use of bold colors and the enchanting play of light, which together create a visual symphony of storytelling. In Krizia’s artistic universe, the impossible is brought to life, not just to be seen but to be felt. To her, every frame is an exploration of the extraordinary, celebrating the magic of turning the impossible into tangible reality. As a first-generation immigrant, her unique perspective is intricately woven into each frame, making her photography a powerful ode to storytelling’s ability to bring imagination to life and capture the essence of diverse experiences. Krizia’s passion for her craft is evident in every meticulously composed image, as she continues to push the boundaries of creativity and redefine the art of visual storytelling.

Kayla Hammel is a passionate photographer who approaches their work with a deep commitment to celebrating diversity and individuality. Their process begins with conceptualization, tailoring each shoot to highlight the unique qualities of their subjects, aiming to leave them feeling empowered and celebrated. Recognizing the importance of community and joy in challenging times, the artist seeks to create images that resonate with positivity and resilience, utilizing the familiar and welcoming environments to capture moments of magic and expression. Kayla feels that people need to escape the world around them for a while and have the chance to walk away from a joyous experience with a smile on their face. And something as simple as a smile is incredibly important in these trying times.

Roosevelt Mansfield loves manipulating light and exploring unconventional angles to evoke unique moods in his photography. Being self-taught, he embraces an intuitive approach, navigating through his imagination. Roosevelt’s philosophy defies constraints and rules where he believes in feeling, learning, experimenting and envisioning freely to create “ART.” He believes there’s no such thing as a master when there’s always something to learn. His creative influences are diverse, drawing inspiration from a multitude of creative minds and paying attention to life. Roosevelt’s photography is deeply influenced by the works of Jamel Shabaz and the late Gordon Parks. Their perspectives have helped shape his vision and approach to photography creating his style.

Roosevelt spotlights the often-overlooked natural beauty within communities of color, emphasizing the unique traits and challenges faced by young Black women, particularly in skin color and hair. Drawing inspiration from his own journey, he hopes to foster acceptance, empowerment and inclusivity by celebrating and showcasing the beauty inherent in diversity.

Sofia Mifsud is an immigrant writer, poetess and image-maker from Sweden and Malta. She moved to the U.S. in 2018, and found herself in Minnesota just two years ago where she has since blossomed creatively and built a community to work and thrive within. Her written and visual works lean towards the Lynchian, the ethereal and that which people have called a soul. She is a lover of story and attempts to find the magic in the most (seemingly) mundane through her work, as well as allow people to see the magic that exists within themselves. As an artist who suffers with bipolar disorder and OCD, Sofia channels her long history of difficult mental health and strain in order to process dark and difficult themes through magic and story to highlight the importance of investing in community in an increasingly expanding world.

James Nipoli embodies an approach to photography that goes beyond mere documentation; it exemplifies a poetic narrative, reminiscent of a visual haiku. With each click of the shutter, he seeks to encapsulate the timeless essence and fleeting moments within a single frame. Striving for simplicity, his images ground viewers in the specificity of unique subjects, moments and places while offering profound insights into the human experience. Influenced by the immediacy and documentary nature of photojournalistic work, along with the nuanced aesthetics of fine art, his portraiture showcases a precise attention to detail, embracing the interplay of light, line, form, color and composition. Napoli believes that a photograph truly becomes a work of art when it evokes an emotional response, transcending technical considerations to resonate deeply with the viewer’s soul.

Christopher Selleck was born in Augusta, GA. He has spent the last 20 years working in and around the art scene of the Minneapolis area. He received his B.FA. in Photography from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2013 and his M.F.A. in Visual Studies and Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2016. Using sports and masculinity as a lens to view identity, his various projects of the last few years have focused on this area of identity construction. His recent projects have addressed issues of hyper-masculinity, sexuality and the male body.

His work has always had an affinity for traditional forms of photography but with a more conceptual approach. Working with film, instant and digital processes his practice has tended to focus on portrait and self-portrait-based projects. Photographic prints and books have been central in his practice, but his work has also incorporated video, sound, installation, printmaking and sculpture. He has been exhibited and published both Nationally and Regionally.

Tom Smouse is a photographer who is passionate about taking real and engaging pictures. His camera tells stories, grabbing the true spirit of the people he photographs. Every project shows the special, creative stories that everyone carries. Tom strives to show emotions and details that come together to tell these stories. In a world saturated with swipeable images, his focus is on authenticity, seeking innovative ways to make a connection through an image. He finds inspiration in all kinds of places and people. For him, it’s about finding common ground and sometimes even questioning what we think we know. Tom’s work hopes to connect people with objects, places and poses in new ways that catch people’s attention. He wants his photography to draw people in and desire to know more. Ultimately, it’s Tom’s wish that the viewer ask questions or tries to answer their own questions they may be struggling with internally.

It’s the People is set to launch in August 2024 and is presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust with support from Clear Channel Outdoor.

To learn more about It’s the People, please visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org/ItsthePeople.

Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.

This activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Media contact

Dale B. Stark Director of Marketing and Communications dale.stark@HennepinArts.org 612-562-5200

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