Chroma Zone 2023 artists, continuing to disrupt the mural festival status quo
Ten artists will leave their mark on the growing collection of community murals in Minnesota’s Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) during the return of the Chroma Zone Mural and Art Festival for 2023. Free and open to the public, Chroma Zone is Minnesota’s largest art and mural festival. It is produced and located within the CEZ, a city-recognized district of Saint Paul and non-profit dedicated to attracting and supporting creative people and businesses. Six new Chroma Zone murals will be created by four local and two national muralists starting in June and leading up to artist-led and community-focused events and programs September 14-16. Begun in 2019, the annual mural festival celebrates artistry and adds to the neighborhood’s long-term beauty, economic viability, safety, and walkability while supporting artists and entrepreneurs, and sparking creative economic activity. Forecast’s team is proud to continue facilitating the festival artist selection. Located in the heart of the CEZ neighborhood for over 25 years, Forecast brings deep knowledge of the area to our mission to advocate for public art that advances justice, health and human dignity. Since 2019, Chroma Zone has produced 43 murals in the CEZ; 82% by local artists, 80% by BIPOC artists, and half by women or non-binary artists.
CONTINUING TO EMPHASIZE RACIAL AND GENDER EQUITY TO DISRUPT THE MURAL FESTIVAL STATUS QUO
We are a proud founding partner on the creation of this festival and are happy to serve as an ongoing Creative Consultant to the Creative Enterprise Zone as they move forward with this incredible event. As a facilitator of the artist selection, Forecast provided the CEZ with a list of pre-qualified artists for the festival’s fourth year.
A part of our role with Chroma Zone is to disrupt the mural festival status quo. In line with our values, we thoughtfully select and recommend artists through the lenses of racial and gender equity. To ensure that resources and talent are cultivated right here locally, we always aim to recommend and select a majority of local Minnesota artists. We are proud to continue to elevate and promote local artists from our rich community of muralists. Along with the CEZ, we also promote and ensure that creatives and artists always be paid fairly for their work. All selected artists in this festival are compensated for their work.
Jen Krava, Forecast Director of Programming, explains: “As a national organization that works with cities around the country, we helped start this festival with a concern that many mural festivals are more focused on priming capital markets than on building social capital among and between people, and that they continue to lag behind in ensuring full representation of BIPOC, women and non-binary artists.”
Many of the selected artists have previously received support from Forecast through grants and other programming, through our ongoing work supporting public artists with funding, training, and opportunities to create partnerships and advance their public art careers.
The final selection includes six Chroma Zone muralists. This year’s muralists are based in Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit; half are women or non-binary artists, and the majority identify as BIPOC artists. Muralists are given walls and the freedom to explore themes and imagery that is meaningful to them. All festival artists retain creative control.
Hend Al-Mansour (Saint Paul)
Hend Al-Mansour’s artwork reflects the female culture of her hometown of Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. She holds a degree in medicine from Cairo, Egypt, as well as Master of Fine Arts and Master of Art History degrees from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of St. Thomas, respectively. Al-Mansour’s work is inspired by Islamic art and addresses gender politics in Arab communities. She creates screen prints featuring stylized figures, Arabic calligraphy, and Sadou and henna designs, and builds shrine-like installations using printed fabric. Recently, she has begun creating digital images and animations.
@hendalmansour | hendalmansour.com
Leslie Barlow (Minneapolis)
Leslie Barlow is a visual artist, educator, and cultural worker from Minneapolis, MN. Barlow believes art and art making is both healing and liberatory, through the power of representation, witnessing and storytelling. Barlow earned her BFA in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and her MFA in 2016 from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In addition to her studio practice, Barlow has taught at the University of Minnesota, Metro State University, and Carleton College. Barlow also supports emerging artists at Public Functionary as Director of PF Studios, is a part of the Creatives After Curfew mural collective, and is a 7-year volunteer for the organization MidWest Mixed. Leslie Barlow is represented by Bockley Gallery.
Leslie painted a mural for the Minnesota State Fair Joyful World Mural Park, for which Forecast facilitated artist selection.
@lesliebarlowartist | lesliebarlowartist.com
Philipo Dyauli (Minneapolis)
Philipo Dyauli is a self-taught painter, muralist and illustrator from Tanzania, currently based in Minneapolis. As a painter, he uses color and scale to illustrate the importance of people over material objects to create a unique form of storytelling, and transform personal experiences into life-size paintings.
@philipowashere | philipodyauli.com
Sydney James (Detroit)
Detroit-bred and based Interdisciplinary Artist and 2017 Kresge Fellow Sydney G. James earned her BFA at the College for Creative Studies in 2001 and began her career as an Art Director in advertising. Sydney headed to Los Angeles in 2004, to expand her career as a visual artist in the film and television industry and earned her master’s degree in secondary education. Returning to Detroit in 2011, Sydney has become one of the leading creative voices in southeast Michigan. Primarily known for large murals, Sydney’s work explores themes of the racial and gender positioning of the black woman in America as “last” or “least among others” in society. Her portraits and murals seek to reposition this narrative of the black woman’s visibility and importance bringing them to the forefront of the conversation. Sydney is a co-founder of the biannual BLKOUT Walls street mural festival which debuted in Detroit in 2021.
@sydneygjames | sydneygjames.com
Max Sansing (Chicago)
Max Sansing is a Chicago-based fine artist and one of the city’s most prolific and talented muralists. His distinct aesthetic fuses the color-drenched dynamism of street art with the technical elegance of photorealism. Born and raised on the South Side by two artistic parents, Sansing discovered his passion and creative gift at an early age. During his youth he was involved with several graffiti crews and taught himself oil painting before completing formal training at the American Academy of Art. In addition to his studio practice, Sansing is frequently commissioned to create large-scale murals and experiential installations across the country. He is deeply committed to supporting his Chicago community and is involved with numerous youth programs that expand arts opportunities in underserved areas. His work has been featured in gallery shows and special events in Chicago, New York, and Miami among others.
Wes Winship (Minneapolis)
Wes Winship is a muralist, fine artist, and printmaker with storied roots in graffiti and street art. Co-founder of internationally-known design and screen print collective, Burlesque of North America, Wes is a successful entrepreneur who has built a creative legacy in the Twin Cities and beyond over the past 15 years. He’s also founder of fine art off-shoot, Burlesque Public Works, which produces large-scale paintings, murals, and site-specific installations, often collaborating with businesses, major sporting events, and music festivals. Of his process, Wes says, “Making stuff is my entire existence. My career consists of having an idea, figuring out how to do it, making that idea a reality and stumbling on the next idea in the process.”
Wes painted a mural for the Minnesota State Fair Joyful World Mural Park, for which Forecast facilitated artist selection.