Murals and art honoring Black lives have been popping up all over the Twin Cities since the brutal killing of George Floyd. On Friday, June 5, local artists created murals on the boards at Seward Co-op’s Franklin and Friendship stores. Art brings hope and vitality to our lives. We are happy to offer a canvas to express emotions and grief, and to support the community in metabolizing trauma.
We worked with local, BIPOC-led artist groups. The lead artists for the Friendship store were Leslie Barlow and Bayou Thomas. Lead artists the Franklin store were Thomasina Topbear and Joy Spika. These individuals each brought a larger team of artists, including youth, to complete the project.
We invite the wider community to participate: using sidewalk chalk, please stop by and add messages of justice, love and hope to sidewalks surrounding our stores. If you stop by to do so, we remind all to wear a face covering and to practice social distancing.
See photos from the murals being created at our Franklin and Friendship store on our Facebook page.
Franklin and Friendship stores Friday, June 5, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Photographer: Derek Meyer
Youth engagement: Joy Spika
Photographer: Chloe Krenz
Youth engagement: Ryan Stopera
Joy Spika is a dedicated youth worker, teaching artist, muralist and musician. She is a practicing artist who has been engaging with both youth and emerging Twin Cities artists since receiving her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Joy is passionate about working with young people who want to explore the possibilities of what the arts has to offer them, and hopes to help elevate the experiences of the community… And she’s black AF.
Thomasina Topbear is a self taught indigenous muralist. She is a member of an international all female art crew called Few Far Women. Thomasina has organized a number of local and national community based murals/events focusing on women indigenous artists. She draws influences from her Dakota/Lakota culture and graffiti. Thomasina uses her murals to express her feelings on community, culture, feminism and togetherness.
Holly (Miskitoos) Henning is an active indigenous visual artist and has been a part of several community based events throughout the United States, Canada, Africa and Mexico. Holly uses traditional beadwork, birch bark biting, acrylics, aerosol, airbrush and traditional dance as a personal and political tool to address, explore and portray contemporary indigenous struggle. Holly is Marten Falls First Nations, Constance Lake First Nations Cree and Ojibwe.
Charles (Wanisin) Garcia visual artist and photographer. His artwork and photography examine social and political issues such as; the criminalization of immigrants and indigenous populations; urban life, self-identity and the realities of our communities in which we struggle to thrive.
Leslie Barlow is a visual artist, educator, and space creator living and working in Minneapolis, MN. In her visual art practice, Barlow’s current work uses figurative oil painting to share stories that explore the politics of representation, identity, otherness, and racial constructs. Barlow actively exhibits her work throughout the United States and many of her pieces can be found in private and public collections. She teaches at the University of Minnesota and Carleton College, helps run the organization MidWest Mixed, and she also supports emerging artists as the Program Director of Studio 400.
Reggie LeFlore is a visual artist who creates art to praise individual and collective stories through human portraiture. His subject matter centers around “everyday people.” he crafts portraits with vibrant colors and contemporary elements, with respect to the human aesthetic to capture the energy and spirit of his subjects’ stories. Reggie is inspired by the concepts and philosophies of Street Art culture and Illustration — using aerosol, acrylic paint and various graphic design techniques to construct pieces in varying styles, scales and surfaces. He uses visual arts to amplify both his surrounding environments and the narratives contained within them.
Simone Alexa was raised in Hilo, Hawaii. She is currently attending Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Hawaiian and African American culture focus on community and taking care of each other. Through these influences Alexa’s work focuses on the empowerment of black and brown people in her community. In creating more representation Alexa furthers the deconstruction of the already existing harmful representations of people of color. In her murals Alexa’s art has captured the power of the people when standing together. She uses immediately legible images and symbols to comfort viewers and inspire the continuous fight against injustice and inequality.
Taylan De Johnette is a Minneapolis Based Designer who originally hailed from the crowded lands of Southern California. She earned her BFA in Design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in May of 2019. In 2019, she joined the Studio 400 inaugural cohort led by Leslie Barlow and Public Functionary members. She had a short run as a Design intern under Target Co. and has since developed a deep passion for the socially innovative side of Art and Design. She hopes to bring awareness to larger social, racial and political affairs all while being relentlessly passionate about strengthening the voices of the unheard through her work. Taylan’s love for Minimal Design, tiny type, color, and socially provoking art all play significant roles in her creation process.
Maiya Lea Hartman is an acrylic painter and mixed-media artist living and working in Minneapolis, MN. She works in a diverse range of medium from pencil and pen drawing, to acrylic painting or watercolors. Her work is largely informed by observations she makes of the world around her and the exploration of human nature and the way we interact with our environment, often examining how our environments affect our ability to express our needs and feelings as both individuals and communities. By using mixed-media materials familiar to childhood, she enhances complex narratives and draws on nostalgia. Maiya is notably one of the 9 emerging artists in residence at Studio400 in the NE Arts Districts’ Northrup King Building. Maiya recently displayed her body of work titled “At Home” at Rosedale Center in Roseville, MN as part of their fall/winter exhibit “Who You Are”. Earlier this Spring some of Maiya’s pen drawings were also included in “The Beginning of Everything” group drawing exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery in Minneapolis, MN.
Bayou (Donald Thomas) An artist and designer born in St. Paul on the land of the Dakota peoples and still based in the Twin Cities. I create mixed-media art installations called Affirmation Mirrors composed mostly of fabric wrapped wood, yarn, mirrors, and beads. I also create murals, digital illustrations, design digital and print materials for artists and organizations, and work as a teaching artist. My art explores the themes of nature from the micro to the cosmic, healing trauma, time, portals, repetitive geometry, setting intentions for affirmations, asking questions, and identity exploration. Water is an especially strong theme in my work as I live near the Mississippi River and it has influenced me on many levels of life.