MPLSART: The City of Murals

The City of Murals

Published February 20th, 2023 by Juleana Enright

In their own voices, the “We Are Still Here” Mural Artists speak to the power and impact of the public art mentorship program, a partnership between All My Relations Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust


The ubiquitous phrase: “Blank walls | Blank minds” is more than just an aesthetic. It’s the mindset of street artists, public artists, and mural creators all across the globe. Throughout Minneapolis, vivid contemporary murals can be found at nearly every turn. Instruments for change, cultural agency, and innovative creativity, murals have the power to elevate our communities with messages of hope and healing through thought-provoking visual dialogue, while providing accessibility in the arts.

For the development of the “We Are Still Here” artists cohort, All My Relations Arts (AMRA, a program of the Native American Community Development Institute, NACDI) partnered with Hennepin Theatre Trust to co-develop a 9-month learning cohort featuring three Native American artists. The initiative matches emerging Native artists with established Native arts mentors in an extensive fellowship to create a variety of public art works which promote Native and Indigenous storytelling in the community along Hennepin Avenue, the American Indian Cultural Corridor, and throughout the greater Twin Cities metro area. “We Are Still Here” is an ever-evolving project, a catalyst that weaves Native and Indigenous culture back into Hennepin Avenue, connecting the district’s community to arts and cultural experience from its past in profound ways.

Now in its second iteration, the current “We Are Still Here” cohort sets out to explore the practice of murals and public art as an integral mentorship informed by knowledge sharing, led by cohort mentor Thomasina Top Bear. Thomasina explains, “I am excited to be working with this all-Native artist cohort. Community is very important to me and has played a key role in my upbringing. I feel that being a part of any Indigenous community is sharing your resources and knowledge for the betterment of the whole.”

As a board member of the international all-female paint crew Few & Far Women and co-founder of City Mischief Murals – an all-BIPOC artist collective centered on healing through art – Thomasina specializes in large-scale murals, and her work can be seen on the sides of buildings throughout the country. She draws influences from her Oceti Sakowin culture while using art to express thoughts on community, social justice, spirituality and togetherness.


Thomasina Topbear, No More Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, 2020. Located in Frogtown, Saint Paul, MN.


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