portrait grid of twenty artists

TOP ROW left to right: Tori Hong, Melvin Giles, Vynetta Morrow, Inkpa Mani, Herb Fineday, Jr. SECOND ROW: Tish Jones, Susan Davies, Kathy Yerich, See More Perspective, Asher Edes. THIRD ROW: Jess Hirsch, Briezy Hart, Jade Townsend, Andrea Pierre, Donna Ray. BOTTOM ROW: Artguy Chuck Hues, Carla Hamilton-Eisele, Molly Van Avery, Nexus Rose Trueself, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay.

Announcing Forecast’s Messages of Hope Mini-Grants Awardees

When Forecast asked artists how we can best help them and their communities NOW, they told us they needed funding to produce projects of hope in their communities in real time. In response, we reallocated $10,000 of our own resources to quickly provide mini-grants to 20 public artists to create messages of hope within their communities.

We are thrilled to announce the 20 mini-grant recipients and can’t wait to share their inspiring projects with you. All projects will be live by April 30, 2020.

The awardees

Andrea Pierre — Longfellow, Minneapolis

A radio host on KRSM, Andrea Pierre will purchase equipment to produce stories to submit to the station. “I am a queer black femme immigrant that has a story to tell using hip hop and R&B to soothe the masses during this time. I am a mother and activist that has the intention to bring healing and love to our culture as we mourn.”

Artguy Chuck Hues — Rochester

Artguy Chuck Hues will collect doodles from neighborhood kids for a daily live painting challenge. These social distance doodles will later be collected for a coffee table or coloring book. “The more of us that are using our creativity during this downtime, the better for ALL of us.”

Asher Edes — East Phillips, Minneapolis

To bring brightness to the brown April surroundings, Asher Edes is using chalk to draw on sidewalks in their neighborhood. The phrases will vary as they invite people to look around, feel belonging, present and connected. A responsive dialogue could emerge. “I might have interactions with my neighbors (who know and feel different things about this place they call home), and I would let their reactions affect where I go next and what I write.”

Briezy Hart — Minneapolis

Briezy Hart will share messages with her community through fliers, yard signs and online. Her messages will include hope and information, such as, “Even though we are all meant to stay home, we are all in this together. Staying home and not visiting anyone face to face is important to not get or spread this virus, especially to the vulnerable ones, our elders and kids.”

Carla Hamilton-Eisele — Duluth

Hamilton-Eisele is turning their front garden into an explosion of color via flowers, veggies, chalk painting, yard signs and yard art for neighbors to take so that they may brighten their own spaces.

Donna Ray — Bloomington

Giving voice to the isolation some may be feeling, Donna Ray is initiating a collection of messages for social media and word-of-mouth channels. She invites residents from across the state to submit a word, doodle, or sentences with the anonymous message they wish to leave for future generations, about the situation in which they presently live. Communities of families and friends state-wide are welcome to interact on this collaborative art project, providing an immediate benefit through generated conversations. The messages will later be held in a series of miniature ceramic bottles made by the artist and their community of ceramicists.

Herb Fineday, JR — Fond du Lac Reservation/ Brookston community, Cloquet

Herb Fineday, Jr. has instructed many sewing circles for ribbon skirt making, and will introduce an online class series through Facebook live. “As these times continue, they will need these skirts.”

Inkpa Mani — Wheaton, Minnesota, Traverse County

By reminding people that relationships lead to a better well-being, Inkpa Mani will create large scale, mobile signs to display messages of hope and how we can come closer to our families and Mother Earth. “As a Dakota artist my people have a saying, ‘Mitakuye Owasin,’ which means ‘We Are All Related.’ In this time of social distancing we have an opportunity to reconnect to the land, the natural environment, each other and our family. We can spend this time to foster and strengthen our relationships.”

Jade Townsend — Standish, Minneapolis

Jade Townsend will make a produce stand, allowing his neighbors to take or share produce whenever they need. As a craftsperson, Townsend will make the structure practical and a piece of art, and as contact free as possible so that neighbors will feel safe taking or sharing produce. “Since the stay at home order I have seen more neighbors than ever before, walking solo or with their family. My produce stand will be an inviting, surprising object that my community can see on their walks.”

Jess Hirsch — Powderhorn, Minneapolis

Jess Hirsch is creating a guided nature walk through Powderhorn Park. Visitors will be able to call a hotline to hear reflective questions at specific natural markers. Visitors “would be able to infer their own conclusions about nature’s acceptance of change and the unknown.”

Kathy Yerich — Forest Lake

Kathy Yerich sees quilts as a medium for sharing love and comfort, and would spread caring messages by creating a series of mini quilts. The first round—given to friends, neighbors or colleagues for public display—will be followed by a second round of quilts guided by messages from recipients, along with a challenge to her guild members to spread comfort and inspiration into other communities. “The process of handling and stitching fabric provides warmth and security, and is healing for both the giver and receiver. My hope is that these ‘talking’ quilts will carry this comforting conversation far and wide.”

Melvin Giles — Aurora/St. Anthony neighborhood in the Rondo Community, St. Paul

Melvin Giles is making peace post cards, and will engage a diverse network of peacemakers, gardeners, farmers, and social and environmental justice champions, along with the local Frogtown Radio and Rondo Library to promote physical distancing. With a team from St. Paul’s Urban Farm and Garden Alliance, Giles wrote the lyrics to a Beatles cover entitled 6 Ft. Apart. He is encouraging others to make their own 6 FT. Apart song using these lyrics, and/or create a new song with their own lyrics and music. Submit your own versions of the 6 FT. Apart song by the end of May, 2020 to urbanfarmandgardenalliance@gmail.com or Melvin at peacebubbles@q.com. “May peace prevail on Earth. May peace be in our homes and communities. Be smart, do your part, and stay 6-8 feet apart in a friendly-heart manner.”

Molly Van Avery — Minneapolis

Molly Van Avery will generate a Poem Share and Poem as Gift. For the Poem Share, she is selecting a poem for each day that we are sheltering in place. Using Instagram, she will talk about the poet and read their poem aloud, sharing it for audiences to read along as visual art. For the Poem as Gift, Avery will schedule virtual conversations with people who want to give a poem to someone else. She will then type the poem on her typewriter while that person is on the screen, read the resulting poem to them, and send the poem to the recipient via the post office. “My goal is to send 100 poems in April.”

Nexus Rose Trueself — Robbinsdale

Nexus Rose Trueself is designing pop up cards to remind recipients that they have the power to honor their purpose in life, despite any challenges. The cards—featuring a seed on the front and a colorful 3D flower inside, with an accompanying message of hope— will be left in public hotspots for strangers to find. “We cannot control what happens to us, but we’re in full control of our response to the hardships of life.”

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay — East Side St. Paul

For a community garden and walking path in her neighborhood, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is creating a reusable haiku board to present poems every few days. “Haikus are accessible because they are short and not fussy.”

SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE — Minneapolis

To inspire and uplift their community, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE is making a series of live-streamed interactive music and poetry performances mixed with visual art and community conversations around themes of hope, resilience, and encouragement. “Patience and Compassion. Take your time rooting yourself in the practice of being present with yourself and loved ones, healing past and current traumas, and making space for inspiration.”

Susan Davies — Buffalo

To raise the sense of hope and solidarity in her community, Susan Davies plans to create ready-to-make butterflies for local families in Buffalo, MN to make and display in their windows at home and around the community. “In many cultures throughout the world, the butterfly has been a symbol of hope and anticipation of Spring.”

Tish Jones — Saint Anthony Park, St. Paul

Tish Jones wrote a short poem comprised of haikus, called “Together.” She will use sidewalk paint and chalk to place stanzas from the series in her neighborhood, sometimes independently as stand-alone pieces, and other times all together to convey the full text.

Tori Hong — Wedge/Uptown, Minneapolis

Tori Hong is creating a free, printable Organizing Workbook (“Growbook”) to allow folks to document and share radical futures with the pod of people they are building with (or want to build with) in self-isolation. The Growbook will be interactive, playful, political and self-reflective, with space on each page for individuals to share their responses and view others’. Users are encouraged but not required to donate to the project, with all proceeds going toward COVID-19 relief for marginalized communities, including trans people of color, sex workers, undocumented folks, and people experiencing homelessness.

Vynetta Morrow — Moorhead

To convey a message of solidarity, safely reaching across the community, Vynetta Morrow intends to share a community poem. Poems will be created as part of The Tree of Social Injustice, connecting her neighborhood in Moorhead, MN to the region and across the world. “Some people do not have a way to carry out the recommendations, or are placed in harm’s way by sheltering in place. I want people to share first through words, then through action.”

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