We Are Still Here is a multiyear collaborative partnership between the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and Hennepin Theatre Trust to bring large-scale, high-profile public artworks to the Hennepin Theatre District and the American Indian Culture Corridor. This ongoing and evolving initiative seeks to match emerging Native artists with established Native arts mentors in an extending fellowship that creates a variety of public art works which promote Native and Indigenous storytelling in the community along Hennepin Avenue and throughout the greater Twin Cities metro area.
This season’s artist mentor is Courtney Cochran who will lead the artists cohort which includes Loriene Pearson (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska), Tamara Aupaumut (Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican, Oneida, Brothertown), Aiyana M Kline (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), and Olivia Seone Stern (Mississippi band of Choctaw, and Carib Kalinago).
For the development of the We Are Still Here initiative, All My Relations Arts partnered with Hennepin Theatre Trust to co-develop and implement a nine-month learning cohort featuring four Native American artists. Under the mentorship of multimedia artist Courtney Cochran this cohort will focus on the process, practice and techniques which make up public/community art. Through implementing a practice based in community care, community listening and responsiveness, the medium of community art is characterized by dialogue with the community and often involving a professional artist collaborating with people who may not otherwise engage in the arts. The work of community artists is designed to inform, engage, provoke, inspire and reflect.
Evolving out of the idea of cultural democracy and a socially engaged practice, community art helps bring about an awareness and appreciation of art to as wide a section of society as possible; and to break down the boundaries to make art accessible to a wider audience. Rooted in engaging the community and listening to the community’s needs, this style of art is deeply collaborative, and at its core cultural seeks to unite people, be a social response, and tell a story, often outside the realms of traditional art spaces – i.e. public spaces.
We Are Still Here amplifies the voices and presence of Native people of Minnesota in the life, culture, art, and activation of Hennepin Avenue & the American Indian Cultural Corridor highlighting Native visibility through uplifting Native voices, highlighting Native truth-telling, and changing the narrative of Minnesota Native Peoples. This program seeks to broaden and promote the awareness of Native people as active and relevant in contemporary times, as well as introduce and educate Native artists on the processes of creating public art, while establishing a sustainable framework for ongoing engagement in Hennepin Theatre Trust with the Native American community in Minnesota.
With sage advice, mentorship, and teaching by an experienced artist with an emphasis in community art, artists will gain tools, expand their learning, and implement their training through a series of projects. The program culminates in a final cohort capstone project reflecting the cohort’s artistic progression and prepping them for the advancement of their careers in this medium.