Here is the background: As you might know, the Minnesota State Capitol is undergoing a major renovation and a review of its historic art. Some of it has offensive images of Native Americans and a slanted view of Minnesota history. (If you are not familiar with the issue, there have been several excellent news pieces; MinnPost ran an article titled: The other debate at the state Capitol: What to do with the building’s most controversial art?) It has inspired a lot of conversation about the purpose of art in public spaces.
A couple of years ago, a local middle school art teacher developed a lesson plan to teach students about art in our State Capitol and to challenge them to make Capitol art that represents their communities, their hopes for their future, and/or their vision of Minnesota. The students also write an artist statement to say what the art means to them. It has turned into a small traveling art exhibit through a group called Healing Minnesota Stories. Here are examples of work done by students at North View Junior High in Brooklyn Park and by high school students at North Woods Community School in Cook, MN.
My colleague Heather Alfred, one of Andersen’s art teachers, is replicating the project here, the first Minneapolis school to do so. The students are in the initial phase of the project. They could really use some encouragement and ideas from working artists. This is a particularly challenging project for any student, because it requires not just artistic skill, but some more intentional thought about the message they want to send with their art.