Zamara Cuyún, Claudia Valentino, and Thomasina TopBear
2022 EARLY-CAREER PROJECT GRANTEE | $8,000
Los Ancestros Mural at La Mexicana
Located in the heart of the Latinx business district in Minneapolis, this mural will explore the relationships between the Latinx and Native communities connected to this area, focusing on shared experiences with displacement and reifying home, and keeping their heritages for the next generations. The objective is to create a mural that affirms the identities of the Latinx and Native communities that have connection to the land where Lake street is located and the bridges of shared experience that link them.
Zamara Cuyún (above left) is, for better or worse, a product of colonization, with Indigenous roots in Guatemala – born and raised in Minneapolis. A self-taught, “Gringindia” artist of de-Indigenized Highland Maya ancestry, she works in acrylics, using elements of Guatemalan Maya history, iconography, and worldview – sometimes to explore and create a vibrant, colorful, imaginary dream universe and, at other times, to represent the restless, violent, and unsettling world we are often forced to inhabit. The themes that inspire her work and to which she is drawn back to, time and again, include Indigenous identity (her own, as well as that represented in Guatemalan society), the history of colonization and resistance, the persecution and genocide of Indigenous populations, and the call for social justice, revitalization, and decolonization and the central role and strength of women in this process. Color and light are of the utmost importance in her work in order to make her subjects – the lovely, as well as the gruesome – pulsate with life from within. Vibrant Guatemalan Indigenous Maya textiles and art – contemporary and precolonial – as well as stained-glass, Scandinavian rosemaling, and contemporary graphic novels inspire and inform her use of color and brushstroke.
Born in Mexico, to parents exiled from Chile and Argentina during the oppressive dictatorships of 1976, Claudia Valentino (above middle) is a muralist with more than 9 years of experience creating art that gives a voice to the community. She began working on murals with local artists and completed her development as a muralist at GoodSpace Murals shortly after immigrating to Minneapolis in 2008. Today, Claudia is an independent artist specializing in the co-creation of murals, both painted and mosaics, driven by intense community participation. Together with various artists, she creates systems and networks of connection with the community to express the wishes, challenges or messages that people want to express in each mural. Any mural that Claudia creates begins with a series of workshops or interviews where members of the community, whether they are schoolchildren or neighborhood residents, participate in learning to use muralism to express their identities and thus feel represented. Representation is one of Claudia’s most sought after goals. She conducts workshops on identity and representation in public art, and was also selected to participate in the 2019 Chroma Zone Festival, as one of twelve artists.
Thomasina TopBear (above right) is a self taught Santee Dakota & Oglala Lakota muralist, she has been a member of the international all female crew Few & Far Women since 2015. Thomasina helped found City Mischief Murals, an all BIPOC mural collective that actively paints large scale community based murals in the Twin Cities. She has helped organized a number of local and national community based mural events focusing on youth, women, activism & BIPOC artists. Thomasina’s inspirations come from her Indigenous culture and graffiti background, she uses these influences to express her feelings on community, social justice, culture, feminism and togetherness.
Forecast has been offering early-career 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. Forecast mid- and early-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.