25 Stories: JXTALabs Apprentice Qadiym Washington

25 Stories: Qadiym Washington

25 stories for 25 years. Since 1995, Juxtaposition Arts has provided arts education, employment, and development opportunities for young people in North Minneapolis. In 2020, 25 years since we started our work, we’re sharing 25 stories that help illustrate the impact, growth, and learning opportunities these 25 years have provided. We’re asking some of our alumni, artist collaborators, donors, clients, board and community members, and current program participants to share their stories. Follow along as we share the impact JXTA has had in just a quarter of a century.

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Our JXTALabs program trains and mentors young people ages 14 to 21 in five revenue-earning production studios; Environmental Design, Graphic Design, Ceramics, Textiles Design and Screen Printing, and Tactical Urbanism. With guidance from adult practicing artists, designers, community organizers, and architects, apprentices produce services and products for a bevy of local and regional clients. They earn a paycheck, develop creative and technical skills, learn industry standards, interact with clients, and become connected to Minnesota’s multi-billion-dollar creative economy.

Qadiym Washington joined JXTALabs in 2015 and is an apprentice in our Environmental Design Lab. “Before working in the Environmental Design Lab, I wanted to do video game design and thought of it as animation,” Qadiym recalls. “I didn’t really think about it as coding or as building a 3D environment. During my interview to join JXTALabs, the Environmental Design Lab Lead, architect Sam Ero-Phillips, was like, ‘that’s pretty much what architecture is.’ Once I started working in the Lab, I could see the connection and it changed my understanding of how an environment impacts its community. I had taken some engineering courses in middle school, and engineering and architecture go hand in hand; they just do design in different fields. I already kind of understood the design process. I fell in love with it and I’m currently in college pursuing architecture.”


Qadiym Washington, Gabrielle Grier, and Niko Kubota pose in front of the HEXTRA parklet

Qadiym, Managing Director Gabrielle Grier, and Enviro Lab lead Niko Kubota pose in front of the JXTA HEXTRA Parklet on our campus. 

Qadiym’s participation in the Environmental Design Lab has helped him find his creative lane. Through JXTALabs, Qadiym has contributed to the design of a number of real community development projects in North Minneapolis, including the skateable art plaza on JXTA’s campus located on the intersection of West Broadway and North Emerson Avenues in North Minneapolis. In 2018, we learned that two of the buildings that housed JXTA’s programming were structurally unsound. The cost to repair them would’ve cost JXTA more than what it would take to tear them down, so we demolished them and launched JXTA’s Capital and Legacy Campaign. Instead of leaving the corner lot fenced and empty while we raised money, youth apprentices and Lab Leads in JXTA’s Environmental Design Lab lead project partners–City of Skate, the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, the City of Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Architecture Department, and TENxTEN–in the design of a multi-use and environmentally conscious skateable plaza. The design features stormwater management strategies, skateable slopes and furniture, and an outdoor hand-washing station for plaza visitors. It’s one of the only formal recreational spaces along the West Broadway corridor. Since its grand opening in June 2019, the plaza has seen nearly constant use by Northsiders and other visitors. “The skate plaza is an attraction now,” Qadiym says. “A lot of people are coming to spend time outside because of the pandemic. It’s perfect timing to have it as a community resource.” 

An aerial view of the skate-able art plaza

An aerial view of the skate-able art plaza on the JXTA campus at the corner of North Emerson & West Broadway Avenues. 

Qadiym posing

Qadiym poses on the skate-able art plaza in front of a mural commissioned from Tats Cru. 

Qadiym’s participation in JXTALabs also connected him to an internship opportunity at KNOCK, Inc., a design firm located in the Near North area of Minneapolis, adding to his professional experience and skill development. “I was an intern there for a year and a half while I went to high school. While I was there, I got to look up different things I wanted to get better at and then created my own work with their support. I worked on an interior design project for their headquarters and contributed to the design of a pop-up shop for a hair salon rebranding project.” These opportunities helped Qadiym become comfortable being himself as a young adult in the workforce. “I’ve been able to unlock a part of myself I never knew was there. Now I know that I can survive in a professional environment and that people need the skills that I have,” he says. “I have control over the work that I do and I’ll never have to give myself away to take advantage of an opportunity.”

Qadiym’s experience in JXTALabs also helped him conceptualize the role he wants to play in his community. “The architecture of your environment plays a big role in how you become who you are. A lot of people are like, ‘let’s save the world,’ and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel like I can make a difference based on what I know and who my community is. That’s what I’m going for by studying architecture.” 

In the future, Qadiym hopes to see more opportunities for youth like the  ones he has experienced. “North Minneapolis has the largest population of youth in Minneapolis and it has a large Black community as well. I just want to see a lot of places like JXTA that employ youth, provide access to skill development, and connect people to other resources and opportunities. I want to be an advocate for my community by sticking around and giving back to the place that molded me into who I am. I think I would always want to be involved in the Northside.”