Home News & Events 15 Creative Community Healing Projects Announced

15 Creative Community Healing Projects Announced

For a second year, Arts Midwest is working with the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy of the City of Minneapolis to disburse $245,000 in grants to artist-led teams working in creative healing. 15 new projects will support Minneapolis communities grappling with the lasting effects of the pandemic and ongoing challenges related to the murder of George Floyd.

A man participates in Haircuts for Change, a 2020 Creative Response Fund project. Photo: Pierre Ware

Creative Response Fund projects are intended to provide creative healing and support to communities directly impacted and affected by the trauma, stress and violence caused as a result of the long and painful history of police brutality disproportionately experienced by Black communities for generations. These grant dollars are also intended to recognize the often-unpaid labor of artists as they respond to multiple health and racism emergencies and mobilize their creative resources to address community needs.

In 2020, a total of 63 artists collaborated on Creative Response projects that ranged from pop-up healing and beauty stations, filmed performances projected onto damaged and destroyed spaces, painted murals that share native medicinal knowledge, community healing through art-making, and engagement events involving storytelling and deep dialogue. This work continues into 2021 with 15 new projects.

Stay tuned this fall and spring for more information on event announcements and timing.

2021 Creative Response Fund Awardees + Projects

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A Budget is a Moral Document

The primary objective of A Budget is a Moral Document is to create public art via murals and zines as a backdrop for civic engagement by community members around how the budget for the City of Minneapolis could affect them in various ways. Samuel and Jordan’s goal will be to represent a new vision for the budget reflecting the desires of people on Lake Street.

Samuel Ero-Phillips is an artist, designer and educator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and studio arts from the University of Minnesota, a master’s in architecture from the University of Illinois and a Fulbright fellowship to Nigeria. Samuel has actively participated in the Twin Cities art community for years.

Jordan M. Hamilton is a multi-disciplinary visual artist. His work explores the embodiment of spirit & expression of cosmic & elemental energy through semi-abstract narratives. Since 2003, his artistic practice has been rooted in graffiti art, followed by mural making, sculpture, installation and digital arts.


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Art + Nature

Art + Nature is a series of free outdoor community workshops created by artist organizers Charonn Williams Shen, JG Everest and Nimo Farah. Local community members will be led by a team of teaching artists in creating a site-specific Spring Sound Garden sound + performance installation at Riverside Park in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis.

JG Everest is a composer and multidisciplinary artist and creates immersive, interactive outdoor sound installations. Designed to cultivate healing in community, his work invites audiences into a deeper relationship with the natural world and with their own qualities of inner peace. He is a 2019 McKnight Artist Composer Fellow.

Nimo Farah is a storyteller and artist. With a deep understanding of the power of storytelling, she seeks to affirm and empower the leadership potential of Somali youth via stories informed by Somali traditions and culture. Nimo works to understand how to better use arts and culture to engage immigrant youth in making the challenging transition of living in a dual culture. She is a recipient of a 2014 Bush Fellowship.

Chavonn Williams Shen is a teaching artist at Upstream Arts. She teaches English at Century College, poetry classes at The Loft and in the MN Prison Writers Workshop. She was a first runner-up for The Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction Contest and a Best of the Net Award finalist.


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Archway Healing

Archway Healing presents multi-media sculptors celebrating BIPOC communities’ and their intimate healing practices. Participants are invited to sit beneath archways and listen to audio stories that will emanate from lanterns above each archway. Audio recordings of community members and elders will present their healing medicine, self-love and qualities of belonging. Prior community events will allow for more interaction and contribution to the stories.

Ifrah Mansour is a multimedia artist and educator. Her artwork explores trauma through the eyes of children to shine a light on refugee resilience. Her critically-acclaimed works include the play How to Have Fun in a Civil War; her first national museum exhibition, Can I touch it; her visual poem I am a Refugee and the film My Aqal.

Alison Osberg is a non-binary and queer artist, fabricator, and carpenter. They have performed at Bedlam Theatre, Open Eye Theatre, and In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, as well as The Freezer Theatre (Rifi, Iceland), AIDA Gallery (Osaka, Japan), and Café Concret (Montreal, Quebec).

Sagirah Shahid is a Black American Muslim poet, arts educator, and performance artist. A recipient of awards and fellowships including; The Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, The Twin Cities Media Alliance, and Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design.


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Ayeeyo Youth Stories

Through Ayeeyo Youth Stories, three Speaking Out Collective (SOC) artists will deepen their relationship with Ayeeyo, a Somali family-owned daycare on E. Lake Street. SOC artists will tell and create original stories with Ayeeyo youth and will integrate hands-on activities to promote healing for staff and youth. Daren Mann Hill will create a new mural on the family’s building next door, and make needed repairs on an existing mural on the Ayeeyo building.

Laura Mann Hill is a theatre artist, director, arts educator, administrator and member of Speaking Out Collective (SOC). She along with Maria Asp has been engaged in critical literacy, storytelling, creative writing and theater programming for children for over 25 years.

Daren Mann Hill is a multi-disciplinary visual artist. His artistic practice includes mural making, painting, sculpture, photography and digital art. Daren works with multiracial, economically diverse and multigenerational communities. He has been the lead muralist on several projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul.


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Brujería for Beginners

Brujería for Beginners (Witchcraft for Beginners) written by Keila Anali Saucedo is a cultural gathering in the form of a bilingual play. Directed by Marcela Michelle in her directorial debut and Suzanne Victoria Cross, a team of artists will work together to bring the healing story to an audience and include creative workshops and design tours.

Marcela Michelle is the artistic director of 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities. She is also the artistic co-director of Lightning Rod, a transgender-led arts organism dedicated to legacy, development, and opportunities for QTGNC (Queer Trans Gender Non Conforming) artists. Her solo practice focuses primarily on simultaneity, im/mutability, and the platonic ideal host

Keila Anali Saucedo is a playwright, performing artist and theatre maker. They have been writing, storytelling, lying, and creating travesura (mischief) since their childhood. They have presented work with Patrick’s Cabaret, Lightning Rod, Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories, Teatro del Pueblo, 20% Theatre Company, and Pangea World Theater.

Suzanne Victoria Cross is an actor, teaching artist and stage manager. She has worked with many local theater companies including touring with CLIMB Theatre as an Actor-Educator, Penumbra Theatre Company’s Education and Outreach Program, Lyric Arts Academy and Teatro del Pueblo. She is currently the Production Manager of Pangea World Theater and the Resident Stage Manager for Lightning Rod.


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Film is a powerful medium for telling stories and revealing hard truths. CellFilms will offer classes to community members who would like to learn cellphone filmmaking as a tool for empowerment and as a medium to share their own stories. Participants will learn how to create short documentaries about themselves and their communities.

E.G. Bailey is an artist, filmmaker and co-founder of Tru Ruts Endeavor, Freestyle Films, and the MN Spoken Word Association (MNSWA). His latest film Keon was nominated for Best Short Narrative by Blackstar Film Festival in 2020. E.G. Bailey was named one of the New Faces of Independent Film in 2017 by Filmmaker Magazine.

Tahiel Jimenez Medina is a Colombian first-generation immigrant director. He tells stories in dedication to migrant mamas. His current work focuses on the representation of immigrant and Colombian culture through a spiritual and personal lens. His project Día a Día, 2020: A Day at a Time was selected by Twin Cities PBS: TPT as part of their highly competitive “The 2020 Project.”

KOBI is a multidisciplinary Liberian/Ghanian artist working primarily in film and photography. An alumnus of St.Cloud State University, he studied Integrated Media and Film production. He believes that the art we make is an extension of who we were, who we are and who we want to become. “The truth is tricky, and the goal is not to create an absolute truth but rather provoke conversations that question how we think.”


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Forgotten Souls

Forgotten Souls is a short documentary film about police brutality and the traumatic effect it has on families and communities. The story of Abuka Sanders, who was killed by Minneapolis police on November 1st, 2000 will be highlighted. The film strives to create a space for storytelling and healing from intergenerational trauma caused by police brutality.

Alfred Sanders is the co-founder of Black Table Arts Cooperative. He has over a decade of experience in the education and non-profit sectors, and has worked directly with special education students living with emotional and behavioral disorders on how to navigate the educational system.

Prakshi Malik is a filmmaker and dancer creating cinema with and for BIPOC and immigrant communities. Prakshi was awarded the 2020 Short Film Grant by Austin Film Society for her short film, BAAHAR. Her previous short, EMBERS, screened at film festivals including PBS Short Film Festival and the Black Harvest Film Festival & Regent Park Film Festival.


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Mamas Ignite Fireside Circle

Mamas Ignite Fireside Circle is a series of events whereby BIPOC mothers can ignite their creativity and healing by participating in songwriting, poetry, visual art and sound healing – coupled with reflection, affirmations and food; culminating in a final concert of the new works ignited by the mothers.

Kashimana Ahua is a mother, musician, vocalist, composer, producer and teaching artist. She is a 2021-22 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow and a recipient of the 2021-22 Cedar Commissions artist award. Kashimana creates expressive spaces that encourage audiences to tap into their musical creativity and storytelling strengths.

ShaVunda Brown is an award-winning spoken word artist, actress, organizer, and spirit guided writer. She writes to empower and shed light on raw truths with a sharp social consciousness using her knowledge of African diasporic spirituality, history, mythos, and the Southern folklore of her upbringing.

Brittany L. Wright is a digital storyteller, social Impact strategist, and creative who fiercely advocates for equity and Black liberation. She’s a published writer, freelance journalist and podcast host who focuses on the nuances of Black life and motherhood.

Kamisha Johnson is a practiced healer, conduit, reiki master, social worker, therapist, mother and friend. She has facilitated healing circles inclusive of women and girl empowerment, childhood sexual trauma, self harming behavior, LGBTQIA + Youth groups, family conflict, Mommy Medicine (group for Mothers) and staff development and healing.

Sarah O’Neil is a singer and performer. She began her vocal journey and love of music singing in her second grade school choir.

Aja Parham has been recognized by The Current as “one of the Twin Cities most well-versed singers.” She has performed with the Minnesota Opera, Skylark Opera, Penumbra Theatre, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. She can be seen performing Jazz standards and R&B throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Glory Yard is a drummer and percussionist based in the Twin Cities. Glory plays with local and international acts. In 2019 she played with Lizzo who performed “Truth Hurts” on Saturday Night Live. Glory’s percussive and versatile style blends elements of gospel, jazz and rock.


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Power Tree Quilting and Affirmation Mirrors

Power Tree Quilting and Affirmation Mirrors are projects focused on fostering healthy, collaborative relationships with and in community. Paige Reynolds and Bayou Bay will identify eight locations in different neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis for continued quilt making sessions in tandem with Affirmation Mirrors healing art collaborative projects.

Power Tree Quilting is an art making project that connects community members with a tangible place to share stories, uplift narratives, honor loved ones, process grief and imagine liberation.
The Affirmation Mirrors project begins with a mirror composed mostly of fabric wrapped wood, yarn and beads and displayed at healing events. Community members are invited to write and create affirmations which are then placed around the mirror.

Paige Reynolds is a cultural worker, theatre maker and healer. Her work centers Black liberation and building community power through arts-based dialogue. A member of the Million Artist Movement cooperative that embraces collaborative and collective liberation, she creates experiences that center Afro-diasporic healing practices and ancestral wisdom. Reynolds earned a BFA in Theatre Arts Administration from Howard University and is currently the Civic Engagement Manager at Minnesota Opera.

Bayou Bay creates Affirmation Mirrors, artworks composed of mixed-media art. Themes embody nature from the micro to the cosmic, black and collective liberation, healing trauma, time, portals, geometry, setting intentions for affirmations, asking questions, symbols, and identity exploration. The waters of the HaHa Wakph (Mississippi) inform the artist’s thematic work and are a major influence in their life. They also create murals, art installations, and digital illustrations.


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Resiliency Through Soliloquy

Resiliency through Soliloquy will highlight the collective voice of healing in the Twin Cities through drum, dance and song via a public art performance. Drum work will center on the importance of the connection between heart, body and land utilizing music in activism, arts and healing. The project will center the Native community in South Minneapolis through collaborations with Little Earth of United Tribes and the Latinx community.

Maria Isa Perez is an award-winning Boricua singer, songwriter, actress, rapper, activist and international recording artist. She incorporates passionate vocals, attitude infused raps, virtuoso percussion work and astute sociopolitical commentary into her work. She has studied with master musicians of Afro-Boricua music of Bomba and Plena of Puerto Rico. She is a 2019-2020 recipient of a Mcknight Fellowship for musicians.

Charlie Thayer is a White Earth/Lac Courte Oreilles Anishinaabe. Through his work with Indigenous communities, Charlie utilizes art-based activism and curation to bring awareness to Indigenous issues throughout Turtle Island. As a recipient of a 2014 Bush Fellowship, his work focused on creating a platform from which the voices of the seventh generation could educate, advocate and strengthen their communities through art and storytelling.


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Rise Up Cinderella

Rise Up Cinderella is a community theatrical dance performance produced and directed by Tanya L. Eubanks. An original story of hope, transformation, healing and learning for all who are suffering within their environments and notably after the traumas so many have endured.

Tanya L. Eubanks is an artist and licensed therapist. She has worked as a dance artist creating a voice for the arts for many years. Expressing her belief that healing through the arts is therapy, she offers dance lessons voluntarily through various productions all which bring performing arts to the streets and community.

LaTanya Cannady began her dance journey studying Liturgical dance at age three. LaTanya is a second year Timberwolves Dancer and has worked with various artists both locally as well as nationally known. LaTanya has training in contemporary/modern, hip-hop, broadway, ballet, jazz and Urban heels. She has since established her own open classes within the Twin Cities dance community.


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Serenading the Wounded Spaces

As part of Serenading the Wounded Spaces, the vocal group Give Get Sistet will gather to commune and sing in five places in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 where Black people have experienced hurt, pain or wounding (i.e. killings, injustices, etc.) in Minneapolis.

The Give Get Sistet is an expandable, improvisational chorus of Black women (including non-binary) based in the Twin Cities with ties around the world. Using a cappella singing and vocal improv, we entertain, educate and empower communities from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures.


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Star Girl Clan

Star Girl Clan is a performance using magical realism and a journey into the Maya cosmovision. An intergenerational story of emergence and healing transformation, the show calls on ancestors and cellular memory to inspire a new generation of descendants to look up into the stars and to care for the earth.

Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (Maya-Lenca tribal citizen) is a Twin Cities-based antidisciplinary artist, musician (Lady Xøk), and culture bearer whose work is rooted in Indigenous Futurisms. She is a 2021-22 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. Rebekah creates immersive multimedia interdisciplinary and experimental storytelling. With deep gratitude to local collaborators, her ongoing installation performances have been developed in part by Redeye Theatre, New Native Theatre, Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, Catalyst Arts, and ArtShanty. See her perform at the La MaMa Puppet Fest, Oct. 21-24, at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in New York City.

Magdalena Kaluza is a queer cultural worker. The child of a Maya k’iche’ political refugee and a white working class activist, Magdalena facilitates participatory processes and co-creates art around radical imagination and healing. As a member of Palabristas, they’ve performed and hosted writing workshops throughout Minnesota. They practice community muralism with Creatives After Curfew and Power of Vision, a collaboration between Hope Community and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Magdalena does puppetry with Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, New Native Theatre, and Star Girl Clan.


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The Rock Royalty Experience

The Rock Royalty Experience is a public healing event in September 2021 designed for George Floyd Square that synergizes three worlds: Earth science, ancestral alternative healing practices and functional fashion. In addition, the work of three functional jewelry artisans, four clothing designers and a healing mall will be showcased. Healing foods from various vendors will be available. A runway-style sharing of functional jewelry and clothing will round out the event. Black community members will offer a healing toolbox. Community members will experience wellness treatments, practices and services to develop a new relationship with practitioners and wellness practices.

Tamiko French is a functional jewelry creator, sound and crystal healer. She is accredited with the International Natural Healers Association, featured at the Mother Baby Center and volunteers at George Floyd Square. She currently provides services at Walker Community Church.


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UNSCRIPTED uses improv theater to promote healing and to empower youth to take charge of their own stories. In partnership with Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis; UNSCRIPTED will offer workshops that mine for joy, hone skills that extend beyond the stage and prepare students to perform in public showcases.

The UNSCRIPTED organizing team is a collective of three Black improv theater teaching artists who are active in the intersections between identity, art, and healing. Unscripted is connected to HUGE Improv Theater, the only theatre dedicated to improv in the state of Minnesota and one of a few improv theaters openly committed to social justice.


Creative CityMaking is a program of The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy at the City of Minneapolis. Funding is provided by The Kresge Foundation. Arts Midwest will act as fiscal agent for the disbursal of grant funds.