art and culture can play a role in building the humane world
we all envision."
ARTIST STATEMENTS FOR: FRANKLIN
LIBRARY, FAMILY HOUSING FUND, SCHOOL
Artist Statement for Franklin
Library Public Art
Robert DesJarlait, Marilyn Lindstrom
We are a team of two artists who have collaborated on community/
public art projects in Minneapolis and greater Minnesota. Robert
DesJarlait (Red Lake Ojibwe-Anishinabe), painter/muralist/Native
historian and educator and Marilyn Lindstrom (European American)
community muralist, mosaicist, visual artist, artist educator.
The complementarily of our strengths and the contrast of our
racial and gender identities deepens our work in finding unified
functional, aesthetic, and symbolic solutions.
Robert and Marilyn have worked together for many years in the
Phillips neighborhood creating outdoor murals with youth in
the community. They have worked in a variety of multi- cultural
settings working with symbols and images from many cultures.
They received the Committee on Urban Environment Award (CUE)
from the City of Minneapolis for their contributions to the
urban landscape both have received the prestigious Leadership
Initiatives in Neighborhood (LIN) grant from the St. Paul Companies
for their work in communities. Marilyn Lindstrom has been researching
and documenting symbols from ancient multi-cultural sources
for many years. She has researched symbols from Asian, African,
Native American, Meso American and European cultures. Her research
for the LIN grant focused on ancient Northern European symbols
and legends, with the purpose in part to find a meaningful place
at the current multi- cultural circle for the European cultures.
Robert DesJarlait is Ojibwe-Anishinabe from Red Lake, Minnesota.
He is a visual artist, historian, educator and traditional dancer.
DesJarlait has created numerous paintings reflecting the culture
of the Ojibwe and has been a cultural mentor and advisor on
numerous public art projects. His father, Patrick DesJarlait
is a nationally known Ojibwe artist, paving a path for Native
artist’s work in the 1950s. Robert has published “Traditional
Art of the Ojibwe” on Ojibwe symbols and pictographs and
has done extensive research and documentation of Anishinabe
traditions and symbols.
In Marilyn Lindstrom’s “Hand to Heart”, mosaic
series, mosaic art is placed over the doorway of the Jeremiah
Program’s new building and on the gateway pillars at the
entrance of the campus. The Jeremiah Program is a residential,
transitional facility for young mothers and their children-"changing
women's lives for their children's future." Lindstrom and
Kouanchao worked with architectural design firm, Collaborative
Design Group, the City of Minneapolis Public Art program, and
the residents to integrate public artworks into a building expansion
project. Lindstrom intends that the art “reflect the dreams,
commitment and nurturing environment necessary to make the aspirations
of the residents a reality--a daily reminder that life can be
beautiful and connected to the larger world.
Between us, we have many years creating public art for and about
diverse communities. Inspiration for our work comes from the
people who live and work where the art will be placed and from
the historic and architectural dimension of the environment.
In this case, the multicultural nature of the community will
inform the content of the art. The mosaic closest to the American
Indian section is inspired from the Native cultures and
the mosaic nearest the World
Language section originates from a global theme. The Italian
Renaissance architectural style will inform the medium of mosaic
as well as the mosaic form is common to many world cultures.
We believe the arts have a transformative and healing dimension.
Many of us are losing our understanding of both the traditional
symbols of our cultural heritage as well as the significance
of current artistic efforts. For immigrant or bicultural people,
especially youth shaping their identity and elders grieving
the dilution of their cultural heritage there is healing in
Universally, murals and mosaics provide a metaphor for the puzzle-like
multiplicity of our experience and lives as pieces of the larger
societal fabric. We believe that public art can play a role
in building a humane environment in which we live. We find our
contemporary lives lacking in symbolic landmarks, points of
contact between the personal, cultural, and communal sense of
place. We have seen public art provide a link between the individual,
the social, the historical and the imaginary. In this case,
the mosaics over the fireplaces in the American Indian section
and the World Languages section of the library of the library
can be a source of inspiration, a gathering place, and a crossroads
of cultures, connections, and ideas- historically and culturally.
Artist Statement for Family Housing Fund "Home
Sweet Home Again: An Exhibition of Art and Poetry," 2005:
When placing the concept of home within the notion of the American
Dream, I found myself facing contradictions, expectations and
finally new definitions. “The
American Dream?” photo mosaic grew out of examining
these hopes, myths and new possibilities around the American
Dream home, especially for new immigrants and those living on
the edge of society.
The project took place at Skyline Towers, a high-rise tower
of 1300 income residents over looking Freeway 94 between Snelling
Ave and Lexington Ave in the Twin Cities. This was the site
for a community mural project I coordinated this past summer
around the theme of welcome and home. Community people from
Skyline Towers became designers, painters and cultural researchers.
We created a beautiful mural inside the resident’s entrance
around the theme of “How do we feel welcome?”
In “The American Dream?”
Skyline residents again became artist participants, shooting
photographs of their community at Skyline Towers, creating over
400 images for our photo mosaic. When the idea for this piece
first arose, I envisioned a mosaic image of a classic middle
class house, made up of people who do NOT live in a traditional
American Dream house. This idea, its seemed would be a powerful
statement about privilege and lack of access. I believe it is.
However, through the course of my becoming a part of the community
at Skyline, I have come to realize that the Skyline Tower community
of people truly does make a Home adding another non-traditional
layer to its definition of The American Dream home.
Thank-you to ALL the residents at Skyline Towers, for your stories,
conversation, ideas, talents, time, work, trust, patience, and
participation in both the mural and the mosaic.
Most of all, thank-you for sharing your home.
Skyline Photographers include:
"G" Abdirizack Abdi
"MB" Mohamed Ali
"Lee" Liban Adam
I am grateful to the Family Housing Fund for this opportunity.
Muchas Gracias to Malichansouk
Kouanchao for her technical assistance. Thank-you to Tobechi
Tobechukwu for the photograph of the house. Many thanks to
CommonBond Communities,Theresa Sweetland and Intermedia Arts,
and SASE-The Write Place for making the mural possible. Thank-you
to Usry Alleyne for his
partnership in the writing and mural residency at Skyline
Towers. Thanks to Christina Erickson, VISTA community organizer.
Thank-you Pro-x Photo Uptown for donating prints of all the
photos for the residents at Skyline. And most of all, thank-you
to all the participants.
Minnesota State Arts Board Roster of
Artist in Education and COMPAS Writers and Artists in the
Schools Artists Statement:
I create murals with students about themselves, their cultural
heritage, their visions and their community. I believe public
art is an important part of our educational, urban and rural
landscapes. Mural art is a collective process, which through
the process of its creation is able to build community and
For thirty years, I have created murals and mosaics with
schools and communities through out Minnesota and Wisconsin
and as global as Uganda, Africa and Managua, Nicaragua. The
work has received committee on Urban Environment (CUE) Awards
from the City of Minneapolis. I have recently been awarded
the Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods (LIN) fellowship
from The St. Paul Companies. I founded and directed an organization,
Neighborhood Safe Art, youth-created public art, which created
a decade worth of outdoor murals with inner city teenagers.
I have created murals with elementary, middle, and high school
students, intergenerational community groups, rural communities,
youth at risk, art students, private school students, elders,
homeless men, development workers in Africa, children in Nicaragua
and countless others. This has been my life work.
In my residencies, students are the designers and painters/and
or mosaicists. They develop a theme, create drawings, and
paint or “mosaic”(tessellate) to the theme. Through
this process, the students become empowered with their own
creativity, knowledge about themselves, each other, and their
communities. The work of art we create together far exceeds
anything any one of us could have created alone, and often,
exceeds all expectations in its’ aesthetics and presence.
Finally, we dedicate the mural with a celebration at its completion
where the creators are honored and the mural is given as a
gift to the school community.