News // March 12, 2018

Juxtaposition Arts’ Opportunity to See Black Panther Continues Ongoing Conversation on Identity, Representation, and Futurism in Art

Ysa Johnson
Marketing and Communications Intern and JXTA alumn

On February 16th 2018, a significant event in black arts was embraced by Juxtaposition Arts with the help of First Avenue and Rhymesayers. Juxtaposition Arts’ VALT students, youth apprentices, and staff were invited to see an early screening of the film Black Panther at Saint Louis Park’s ShowPlace ICON Theaters.

Black Panther is important not only as a significant cultural moment, but also as another step in a history of steps black and marginalized communities have taken to create their own futures, and giving images of an unapologetically black film celebrating black culture to the youth of today creates the creative heroes of tomorrow. While other superhero movies featuring a black protagonist and cast like the Blade trilogy existed prior to Black Panther, none were at the same level of production as this blockbuster movie. A black superhero film of this size was a long time coming. The Blade trilogy predates the Marvel Cinematic universe and brought Marvel movies to public recognition. Black Panther brings Marvel’s theatrical releases full circle. The movie had been in the works for years before production began, with Marvel producer like Nate Moor pushing for explicitly black narratives in superhero canon.

Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther includes a majority-black cast and the kind of detail paid to production, design, script, and editing that a black-led team could accomplish. Both overtly and subtly, images and messages of black liberation and self-determination were two of the major themes the movie features, and the world clearly wants it, reflected in the staggering box office success, dispelling the myth that black-centered stories and art are undesirable to worldwide audiences. This movie is so powerful to JXTA not only because of the representation but of the successful execution of such a large scale, impactful project which can inspire young people to dream big and take on whatever they believe is possible.

I was getting tired of seeing the same story over and over again, glossing over real issues that affect real people. No matter what background you have, a world responding to the histories of colonization, slavery, and oppression affects all of us. We see this reflected in the global, national, local and interpersonal spheres, and it is time we create stories that reflect what is really going on. On a more personal note, I was overjoyed to see such beautiful, unique black characters given the same complexity and interiority that is given by default to white characters and white stories. This movie is a difficult conversation, AND a celebration, pushing the culture around black representation and black stories as they are presented to a worldwide audience. To be able to engage on such levels was a gift, and I know it’s just the beginning.

DeAnna Cummings
CEO and founder of Juxtaposition Arts

“We were trying to draw a future. To leave something that inspires. We arrived to this big epic story. But it is also a big responsibility when telling an epic tale because you have to tell it – epically.” — Namir Fearce, artist, and JXTA alumni

Stories shape us. They shape communities, institutions, and behavior. They do not have to be true to be passed on and believed. But what we believe has a powerful impact on the world. Last week, I had the good fortune to see Black Panther with the entire team at JXTA. Director Ryan Coogler and the nearly entirely black cast gave us an epic story that is black affirmative, unapologetically black-centered, and a joyfully executed epic story.

The film resonated with our team. The big picture of our work at JXTA is about illuminating stories about Black and POCI people and marginalized communities. Our goal is to shift mainstream narratives that are narrow and largely negative toward collective stories that focus on our assets, skills, creativity, accomplishments, and ideas. We train and employ young artists and designers in our North Minneapolis neighborhood so that they can practice powerfully living into their roles as leaders and creators and so that people inside and outside of our community get used to seeing our youth in this light.

This is what I think Black Panther does on a grand scale. I left the theater feeling proud of my people, and my team, and with a bounce in my step because we are individually and collectively LIT! Black Panther is the latest cultural milestone that is proof that people who have been historically and systematically oppressed, are hungry to see authentic representations of ourselves and will support projects and institutions where we can produce and tell our own stories. I hope we can make a commitment to support the artists, story makers, and young futurists whose voices haven’t been heard enough who tell the tales we need to imagine so that we can believe, and act on the possibilities of something new.

Wakanda Forever!

News // January 22, 2018

Designing a Public Safety Strategy through Community Engagement.

Write-up by Roxxanne O’Brien, Kristen Murray, and Melanie Stovall

Over the last few years, Juxtaposition Arts Tactical Urbanism Lab worked to create welcoming public spaces with music, art, and other activities centered around community engagement. Through talking to community members at everyday public spaces, like the bus stops along West Broadway, we were able to engage with people around different topics relevant to our neighborhood in North Minneapolis.

Inspired by the impact we saw from our community engagement, we started Broadway Vibrations. The program was a chance to step up the previous work of our Tactical Urbanism Lab and bring community-inspired ideas to life. Particularly around public safety.

JXTA youth and staff directly experience the pain and injustice that goes on in our community. We had two bullets come through our windows earlier this year. Both occasions were during broad daylight when our campus was busy with youth and adult staff working. Building a creative space that feels safe is a top priority at Juxtaposition Arts. The concept behind Broadway Vibrations came from understanding that crime is something that needs to be addressed with a holistic approach that goes beyond policing. We wanted our neighbors in North Minneapolis to join us in creating our own public safety strategy.

That strategy was focused on activating West Broadway when and where things can get hot: on Friday afternoons and early evenings, especially near Hawthorn Crossings. We intentionally did activities around healing and raising endorphins in a healthy way. From blowing bubbles to playing old school music, to serving home cooked meals, our initiatives were all centered around wellness. We wanted to design a space that uplifted people, making them feel safe and loved through creating hopeful energy and positive vibrations to spread throughout our community. And it worked. People came through to make a smoothie, take a free book, get a massage, do yoga, snap a photo in the photo booth, participate in the open mic, watch a movie, enjoy a community meal, and play in one of the Spades tournaments.

Throughout the summer, we used our JXTA branded pedal-powered smoothie bike to offer a fun, active, environmentally-friendly way to make healthy snacks. We hired community members to share their services and skills: massage, yoga, meditation, legal advice, cooking, and healing. We had experts lead workshops on dealing with PTSD and grief. We also hosted a day-long Psychological First Aid training workshop with counselor and author Resmaa Menakem. On the 50th anniversary of the Plymouth Uprising, we screened TPT’s documentary on North Minneapolis and The Children’s March. In late September, we screened a feature-length movie in the parking lot of Hawthorn Crossings, creating a pop-up drive-in theater on West Broadway.

Between July—September of 2017, we hosted 13 Broadway Vibrations. Our locations included the Hawthorn Crossings parking lot, the corner of West Broadway and N. Lyndale and our JXTA campus. We engaged with almost 800 community members, a lot of which were walking past, saw the activities and stopped to join. One night, we were able to engage with a group of young people just hanging out at the McDonalds near Hawthorn Crossings. They tried yoga, talked with older community members, and came back for the community meals. Two of them participated in both of our Spades tournaments we hosted, taking first prize in one.

This summer, Broadway Vibrations became a place for North MPLS to gather, talk, and share resources. It was a magnet for positive energy in the community. We heard so many words of encouragement, affirmation, and gratitude from people who participated. There were no incidents of violence at or around our location, and we are eager to see MPD data for the vicinity, to understand if there is a correlation between our work in community engagement and public safety on West Broadway. Based on our experience and the feedback we got from community members, we believe that there is.


News // December 19, 2017

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund awarded a $50,000 grant to Juxtaposition Arts to build the first-ever skate park in North Minneapolis.

Photos by Steffenhagen Photography

The vibrant, community-developed skate park will be conceptualized and designed by youth apprentices from the Environmental Design Lab at JXTA in collaboration with City of Skate and West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. At JXTA, the labs give youth apprentices hands-on experience under the direction of established creative professionals, giving emerging artists the tools they need to build a successful career doing what they love. The Environmental Design Lab re-imagines space in the built environment through combining high-quality public interest and social justice design.

The grant is part of the Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program, which is made possible each year by a $1 million contribution courtesy of the NFL Foundation and is complemented by the Super Bowl Host Committee. Through its 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, the MNSBHC has launched a yearlong effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event by awarding 52 communities with grants that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.

The addition of the skate park is timely as more young people on the North Side are skating today but don’t have a neighborhood location designated for the sport. “The artist designed skate park is an incredible opportunity to bring Juxtaposition’s Art outdoors,” said Roger Cummings, Chief Cultural Producer and Co-founder at Juxtaposition Arts. “This project is a chance for us to spotlight the creativity of our artists and expose young people on the Northside to a new form of recreation. We also hope to draw awareness to how we, as a community, can use the power of art to decriminalize public spaces, encourage healthy lifestyles and expression, promote play and community interaction.”

In addition to the artist-designed skate park, JXTA is also creating a pop-up parklet and relocating a portable art space, called “The Magic Shed” to their campus. The pop-up parklet will provide a communal gathering space and will feature benches and tables. The Magic Shed, is a flexible, multi-purpose structure that can be configured as a stage, vending kiosk, projection screen, information booth, exhibition and activity space. It was commissioned by the West Broadway Coalition and designed in 2016 by a team that included Juxtaposition Arts students and staff, Ten x Ten Landscape Architects and 4RM+ULA Architects. In its previous location, the West Broadway Area Coalition successfully programmed the stage for a full year, including a weekly concert series, storytelling and poetry events, artist-created workshops and other community-driven events. The Magic Shed will soon be relocated to JXTA and will feature similar programming near the new skate park.

“Juxtaposition Arts is at the heart of the Bold North. It is exciting to partner with them and City of Skate to build the first-ever skate park in North Minneapolis,” said Dana Nelson, Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships at the MNSBHC. “The 52 Weeks of Giving campaign is about building a legacy for young people through access to increased physical activity. I can’t wait to see what the JXTA designers create!”


News // November 28, 2017

Drew Petersen Solo Exhibit: Hurry Up and Wait

If you take a look at the last four solo shows to come through Public Functionary, you’ll notice one thing that the artists all have in common with each other: they’re past and present Juxtaposition Arts instructors:

Next up? Visual Art Literacy Training (VALT) Instructor, Drew Peterson. At the core of this exhibition is a sentiment that Peterson feels he shares with many of his generation, the mentality to “do more with less,” to embrace complexity, and the understanding that the labor that constitutes our path contains value and meaning.

In this exhibition, Peterson has stripped down his approach to screen printing—relying solely on techniques generated directly by hand rather than the technologically aided processes most utilized in contemporary printing practices. Peterson explores a hybridized process of watercolor painting and screen printing at a scale that normally exceeds the technical capacity of print-based work. The title Hurry Up and Wait encapsulates the artists’ surrender to both time and process, and serves to illustrate the frenetic formal qualities of the exhibition.

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 16 / 7pm @ Public Functionary
Gallery Hours through January 13, 2018
Open hours: Tues/Thurs 12-6pm / Saturday 12pm-7pm
Artist Conversation: Friday, Jan 12 / 7pm
*Additional Friday evening programs and open hours TBA*

More info:

News // November 14, 2017


We are so excited for JXTA alumn Amairana Jonapa Sanabria who was awarded a Su Mathews Hale Women Lead Award at the National AIGA Conference in Minneapolis! Inspired by Su Mathews Hale, AIGA’s fifth female president and co-founder of AIGA’s Women Lead Initiative, the Su Mathews Hale Women Lead Award helps support talented, high potential female designers starting out in their careers. Each year, a handful of high-performing students enrolled in design schools are selected with the help of faculty lead on our 200+ AIGA Student Groups to attend the annual AIGA Design Conference and connect with the design community through rich conversation, networking, and education. Recipients also receive an invitation to join AIGA Women Lead committee members for a mentorship lunch during the conference, as well as a one-year membership to AIGA.

In this video, Mai talks about how she wants to, “design a campaign to show awareness about DACA students and why we deserve to stay here.” Before attending the Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Mai was a Graphics Lab Youth Apprentice here at JXTA and also worked on our Youth Media Team. When our youth apprentices age out of the program at 21, we are always so proud to see the next phase of their life. Whether that be higher education, entrepreneurship or landing a job in their field or in Mai’s case, winning an award with the largest professional design organization, AIGA. Congrats Mai!

News // October 27, 2017

We’re honored to be recognized by The Bush Foundation as one of the Bush Prize Winners

The award centered around community innovation celebrates organizations that are extraordinary not only in what they do but in how they do it. Winners receive an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the organization’s last fiscal year budget, up to $500,000. The Foundation produces a short film and Creative Case Study for each winner as a way to highlight their accomplishments and celebrate their success. Creative Case Studies build on work done by our evaluation partner, Wilder Research, to learn about how effective community problem-solving happens.

Editorial Feature on Pollen Midwest

Art Direction and Design by Pollen Midwest
Photos by Nancy Musinguzi
Story by Maya Beck
Illustrations by John Wilinski & Ann Macarayan
Research by Wilder

The Bush Foundation chose the team at Pollen Midwest and their signature style of visual and narrative storytelling to help audiences better understand what makes a Bush Prize winner. You can see the full feature here:

Bush Prize Volume One: Your Field Guide to Creating a Culture of Innovation

Product Photography by Melanie Stovall

In addition to the online feature, Pollen Midwest and the Bush Foundation wove together the work of creatives spanning nonfiction, photography and illustration to create this field guide of regional innovation. While the overall content creates a portrait of progress, the book’s construction mixes the old with the new. Modern illustrations, cinematic portraits and detailed footnotes live within a structure that pays tribute to the innovation capsules of the past: Kelley Blue Books, vintage encyclopedias and Farmer’s Almanacs.

News // July 3, 2017

In celebration of 22-years of putting creativity to work in North Minneapolis, we are displaying our first-ever Juxtaposition Arts alumni exhibition.

Come check out the awesome talents of creatives and entrepreneurs spanning the classes of 1995 and 2015.

On Thursday, June 29th, 7:30-9pm join us in the Emerson Avenue gallery for refreshments, a stroll through the 7-artist exhibition and a deep-dive into the journeys, struggles and visions of these distinguished JXTA alums. Panelists include multidisciplinary artist Adrienne Doyle, creative entrepreneur Houston White, jewelry designer Kelsey Lee-Karol and musician/composer & scholar Davu Seru.

Alumni Talk:  Thursday, June 29th, 7:30-9pm
Exhibit Dates: May 9th-July 16th, 2017.
Gallery Hours: M-Th, 10am-4:30pm
Location: 2007 Emerson Ave N. Minneapolis, MN 55411
For more info:



News // July 3, 2017

This summer, as you stroll through downtown Minneapolis, be sure to take in the artist displays up as part of Future: Made Here, a project of Hennepin Theater Trust.

Exhibit dates: now through August 30th, 2017
Location: 730 Hennepin Avenue S. ( the northeast corner of 8th Street & Hennepin Avenue) in downtown Minneapolis

JXTA Contemporary/Public Art Lab apprentices designed a new piece for the exhibit, which will be mounted throughout the summer. Here’s what they had to say about their installation, “Contemporary Futures”:

This piece functions as a narrative, centering how we envision and cultivate the futures we want and honoring the Earth. Reflecting on the state of the world we live in, what futures we want to create within it and what we want to leave behind, we explore what it looks like to resist and persist through the toxicity of our current social and political climates and move forward. The mixed media installation was created assemblage style using recycled, second hand and found objects.

The piece was by Contemporary Arts Lab instructors Adrienne Doyle, Tia-Simone Gardner and Jordan Hamilton and apprentices Kayla Baribeau, Imani Gates, Samie Johnson, Ysa Johnson, Nya Jones, Skyler McBurnie, Salem Andersen-Murre, Canaan Ray-Strong, and Savitri Swayze.

Also, be sure to also check out JXTA apprentice Canaan Ray-Strong’s shrine to the ghost of hip hop past present and future. Canaan submitted his piece independently and was selected for the show. Go, Canaan!

Exhibit dates: now through August 30th, 2017
Location: 730 Hennepin Avenue S. ( the northeast corner of 8th Street & Hennepin Avenue) in downtown Minneapolis

Click here for more information on the exhibit.

News // July 3, 2017

Get ready for the 12th annual FLOW: Northside Arts Crawl, recently named “Best Art Crawl” in the Twin Cities by City Pages!

Saturday, July 29th, 12-7pm: There will be plenty of fun and creativity stretched across the JXTA campus. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Live aerosol workshop.
  • Make your own button workshop with Graphics Lab.
  • Bring your own shirt and get a limited edition design printed by our Graphics and Textile & Screen Printing Labs.
  • Collaborative drawing and make-your-own-playground workshops with the Visual Arts Literacy Training (VALT) studio.
  • New mural unveiling and gallery exhibit from our Contemporary Art and Public Art labs to kick off Black August.
  • JXTA Staff, Apprentices and Representatives from the Upper Harbor Development and Design Team, City and Park Board will be on-hand to speak directly to the residents of North MPLS. We’ll be sharing information as well as ways to get involved through Workshops, Site Tours, Door Knocking and more.
  • The 1108 W. Broadway Artist Co-operative will host open studios.

Stay tuned for more. Until then, check out theses pics of past celebrations…

News // June 15, 2017

We are honored to have exceptional artists devote time and talent to our work of placing art the center of youth and community development. Check out the recent media buzz about three members of our team…


Graphics Lab assistant, Bobby Rogers, has received attention from Elle Magazine and Huffington Post for his beautiful new exhibit #BeingBlackandMuslim.

Photo by Bobby Rogers for the series #BeingBlackandMuslim, 2017.

Visual Arts Literacy Training (VALT) assistant, Leslie Barlow, has recently been profiled by local PBS station’s MN Original series!

Leslie Barlow by Twin Cities Public Television’s MN Original, 2016.

JXTA class of 1995 alum and current Communications Manager, Davu Seru, made the cover of the Star Tribune‘s Friday Variety section.

Davu Seru by Renee Schneider for Star Tribune

Also, we’re honored to have had help in spreading the word about our work…

Thanks to Harvard Kennedy School, Pollen, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Art Place America for letting the world know about what we do here in North Minneapolis!