Partners in Action: A Community Exhibition

October 3–27, 2019

Through support from the Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Access grant, the M opened Partners in Action, a community exhibition in the Ford Center for Creativity showcasing artwork created by participants of co-designed residencies with three St. Paul organizations. These months-long residencies centered reciprocity, social interaction, and cultural responsiveness. 

Createch Studio at Arlington Hills Library

For over a period of two months, teens from Createch and resident artist Witt Siasoco engaged in discussions around the themes of neighborhood, pride of place, and the realities of gentrification, such as displacement. This collaboration resulted in a mural titled A Plan for Payne, permanently on view in the M’s Center for Creativity, which highlights people and places of St. Paul’s Eastside neighborhood on Payne Avenue, where Createch is located.

Hmong Elder Center

Resident artist Hlee Lee-Kron gathered with elders at Hmong Elders Center where participating women elders created the batik and Paj Ntaub (Hmong embroidery) works while men worked with bamboo to weave baskets and rice sifters. The elders identified the media they were interested in and guided Lee-Kron and Hmong Elders Center staff to source the materials and tools needed to make the authentic works.

Hallie Q. Brown Community Center

A group of five women from Hallie’s “Golden Agers” engaged in storytelling—speaking from the heart with gentle facilitation from resident artists Nicole M. Smith and Lawrence El Grecco Waddell. With prompts, such as family, food, and faith, their stories emerged, and music to awaken memories the final product resulted in an original composition that interweaves the voices of the women with a score by Waddell, informed by Smith. It’s evocative of the thriving community and rich legacy that was, is, and will be Hallie and St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood.

The M has received another Arts Access grant to continue working with the Golden Agers, Smith, and Waddell for a residency focused on Gordon Parks and Black identity.