ST. PAUL, MN — Forecast is excited to announce our 2017 grant recipients! 

Sam Gould was awarded our $50,000 Mid-Career Project Grant, designed for mid-career public artists.

Essma Imady and Aaron Johnson-Ortiz were each awarded an $8,000 Emerging Artist Project Grant. Moheb Soliman and Works Progress (Shanai Matteson and Colin Kloecker) each received $5,000 Mid-Career Professional Development Grants. Becca Cerra, Jessica Hirsch, Heidi Jeub, and Christopher Zlatic were each awarded a $2,500 Emerging Artist Research and Development Grant. Mid-Career artist grants are made possible by funding from The McKnight Foundation and emerging artist grants are supported by Jerome Foundation. Julie Benda, Deborah Elias and Mary Jane Mansfield received $1,500-2,500 Making it Public grants, funded by the Lowertown Future Fund and City of St. Paul Cultural STAR.

Forecast supports Minnesota artists working in the public realm throughout their careers with opportunities that include convenings, grants, artist talks, and workshops. Both emerging and mid-career grants are designed to support independent projects, leadership development, professional development, risk-taking, multidisciplinary approaches, and collaborative problem-solving in the field of public art.

Two independent panels reviewed and selected the artists for Forecast’s grant opportunities.

Panelists selecting this year’s McKnight- and Jerome-funded projects were: Raquel de Anda, an independent curator and cultural producer based in Brooklyn, NY; Michele Anderson, a composer and Rural Program Director for Springboard for the Arts, based in Fergus Falls, MN; and Witt Siasoco, a community-based artist, designer, and educator, and Studio & Community Arts Associate at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Making it Public grantees were selected by Amanda Lovelee, a visual artist based in Minnesota currently working as the City Artist for Public Art Saint Paul; Tom Reynan, digital photographer, member of AZ Gallery in Lowertown and president of the Saint Paul Art Collective; Sarah Peters, artist co-director, director of public engagement for and Northern Spark; Elle Thoni, artist and assistant curator of Northern Spark; and Jen Krava, artist, landscape architect and community services associate at Forecast public art.



This is the sixth annual Mid-Career Project Grant. Previous grant awardees include Marcus Young, Seitu Jones, Mankwe Ndosi, Melisande Charles, and Randy Walker. In addition to these $50,000 project grants, the McKnight Foundation enables Forecast to provide Professional Development Grants for mid-career artists seeking to expand their work in the field of public art. “Mid-career” artists are defined as being recognized by their peers and arts professionals, having produced an independent body of work, and having a record of commissions, projects, or exhibitions.



Sam Gould, Publics and Publication

Inspired by an early conversation that took place at Beyond with former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party Emory Douglas, Publics and Publication will gather histories known and not-known-well-enough from noted artists, activists, and thinkers who have activated ideas around publication (the act of public making) to energetic means. These histories will energize a series of public projects and platforms (such as printed publications, radio broadcasts, and interactive billboards) addressing policing and “security” within Minneapolis’ 9th Ward, as well as models for collective self-defense and wellness.



Moheb Soliman, R&D for a poem of sublime proportion

Soliman will begin research and development for an ambitious permanent installation of poetry and sculpture stemming from a decade of work. This installation is a “poem of sublime proportion” circling the entire Great Lakes, made up of 50+ lines, each taking the form of a site-specific landscape-based sculpture, in 50+ shoreline locations. Project development will entail researching similarly-scaled installations and models for mounting region-wide projects, and developing a plan, team, and partners for the work.

Works Progress (Shanai Matteson & Colin Kloecker), Water Bar & Public Studio

Water Bar & Public Studio is the evolution of a public art project begun in 2014: a pop-up Water Bar serving regional tap waters for free, staffed by water experts, environmental advocates, and public employees. Having opened a storefront space to establish a permanent home for Water Bar and a related “public studio” practice, Works Progress will now work toward longer-term project sustainability through leadership and business skill development.



Forecast has been offering emerging artist grants supported by Jerome Foundation since 1989. In addition to funding, Forecast is dedicated to providing professional development and learning opportunities designed to assist emerging artists as they experiment, hone their practices, and cultivate careers in the field.



Essma Imady, Light Upon Light

Light Upon Light is inspired by traditional mosque light fixtures and the American Muslim experience. The piece will take the form of a light fixture that hangs from the dome of An-Nur mosque, whose light will engage both the stark white dome it hangs within and the worshipers and art patrons underneath. The process will involve conversations with local communities, whose input will inform the final design, and will culminate in a panel discussion bringing together voices spanning Muslim and arts communities.

Aaron Johnson-Ortiz, Twin Cities Worker Solidarity Mural

Artist, designer, and labor and community organizer Aaron Johnson-Ortiz will work with low-wage worker activists, neighbors, and allies, to develop, design, and create a site-specific multimedia mural at the new Minneapolis workers’ center building, Centro de Trabajadores en Lucha. Workers’ center members will guide the process of developing the theme, and both workers and allies will participate in the mural’s creation.



Becca Cerra, Body of Work

Using physical disabilities as the starting point for photographed sculptural interventions, the billboard project Body of Work will confront unrealistic standards of beauty, ability, and perfection and give voice and visibility to those with physical disabilities. R&D work will encompass studies of anatomy and prostheses, meetings with potential project participants, materials tests, design/prototyping, billboard mock-ups, preliminary assessments, and applications for supplementary funding.

Jessica Hirsch, Healing Forest

Healing Forest is a future public art work fusing energetic medicine with the theory of Afforestt, which entails creating a self sustaining native micro forest through dense plantings and biodiversity. Research encompasses plant medicine and tree farming, as well as developing collaborative partnerships for concept and funding.

Heidi Jeub, Portable Public Art Prototyping Tool Kit

The Portable Public Art Prototyping Tool Kit will address rural barriers to public art production and facilitate the creation of small scale, accessible public art experiences, modeling and idea development. Jeub will acquire a series of tools, including a laser engraver and digital drawing software; craft a full-scale temporary model for a future public art installation, Houses; and use this model to gather community input and work out logistics.

Christopher Zlatic, St. Cloud Community Mural

Zlatic will engage in a three-phase mural development process for a highly visible, central, intercultural mural in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Logistical work will involve researching materials for an outdoor mixed media mural and exploring the needs and interests of property owners of potential sites. Engagement work will entail organizing and conducting a focus group including leaders from the arts, education, and Somali communities whose insights will guide processes going forward.



The Making It Public workshops series, designed to help artists explore the process of bringing their work into the public art sphere, provides an in-depth introduction to public art project design and proposal development. Presented at no cost to the artists, the series focuses on the fundamentals of creating public art and covers topics like site analysis, community engagement, permitting, conservation, proposal preparation, project management, and project ideation. Participants are invited to propose a project idea for implementation via a competitive grant process.


Julie Benda, Sinking Ship//Land Raft

Sinking Ship//Land Raft is a cautionary tale, a metaphorical enactment and simulation for mobilization addressing the rapid sediment fill of the Mississippi River. Responding to the theme of Northern Spark 2017—climate change/climate chaos—participants in this interactive temporary engagement will come together to metaphorically keep their homeland afloat by shoveling and loading 5.5 tons of sand into boxes and loading them onto a raft staged for launch near the river.

Deborah Elias, The Feria de St. Paul

The Feria de St. Paul will bring the vibrant, social experience of the feria—a lively Spanish street festival—to Lowertown during the ArtCrawl in 2017. This project will transform an empty plaza into a colorful and interactive social space with installation of an elaborately decorated caseta (traditional feria house). Visitors will be immersed in a multi-sensorial experience as they enter, with flamenco dance and music performances and participatory engagement through song and dance.

Mary Jane Mansfield, The Transparent Spirit Elevation Chamber

The Transparent Spirit Elevation Chamber is a temporary, portable public art installation activated by performance art. Activating the public spaces and providing wayfinding during the 2017 Art Crawl in Lowertown Saint Paul, participants are invited to enter this surreal, sensory experience designed to alter perspective and offer transformative, reflective moments.