MINNEAPOLIS (May 16, 2022) — The Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and All My Relations Arts are pleased to present We Are Still Here, a group exhibition featuring Ray Janis, Sheldon Starr, Missy Whiteman, with mentor artist, Jonathan Thunder.
As part of the inaugural collaboration between Hennepin Theatre Trust and All My Relations Arts, this exhibition features the culmination of works completed by the artists during their eighteen month cohort. The artworks include digital designs featured previously as billboards displayed in downtown Minneapolis, along Hennepin Avenue and throughout the Twin Cities. These works served to uplift Native voices and highlight truth-telling by changing the narrative of Native people in Minnesota. The art highlights contemporary Native culture while dispelling stereotypes through education, humor, and bold, thought-provoking designs. By interweaving contemporary and traditional storytelling, and the allyship of Indigenous communities here in the Twin Cities, We Are Still Here connects the Native history of the land and continued connections to our past using the powerful visuals and current narratives of contemporary Native artists.
All My Relations Arts Director Angela Two Stars shared, “We are thrilled to celebrate the culmination of 18 months of work created by this talented group of artists. While often the end product viewed by the public is the artwork, this group invested in so much more unseen work that shaped the success of this partnership with Hennepin Theatre Trust. From establishing relationships, networking, peer conversations, and knowledge shared, these artists invested in the process and I am excited to continue to observe the impact these artists will have in their artistic communities and careers. It has been a pleasure to partner with Hennepin Theatre Trust and I am grateful for their support in this program and I look forward to our future work together.”
This exhibit was previously showcased at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Best Buy Foundation Gallery. It travels to All My Relations gallery – with additional artwork – May 24th and runs through July 2nd, 2022.
On View: May 24th – July 2nd, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 28th 6-8pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, June 25th 6-8pm
ABOUT THE DIGITAL ARTISTS’ COHORT
We Are Still Here re-centers Native voices and stories in the Hennepin Theatre District and the Native American Cultural Corridor through the work of a Native artists’ cohort working in a variety of digital and analog media. All My Relations Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust have committed to this multi-year partnership to weave Native culture back into Hennepin Avenue with temporary and permanent art that engages Native and non-Native people in a deeper sense of place and shared future.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Raymond Janis (Oglala Lakota Tribe) goes by the artist name of Ray Rock Boy. Ray is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He grew up in the Medicine Root District also known as Kyle, South Dakota or Taopi Cikala.
Rock Boy started his art career teaching himself how to use Adobe Photoshop programs, which helped him elevate his art and knowledge in graphic design. He recently received his Associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Oglala Lakota College.
Ray “Rock Boy” is influenced by his Lakota heritage and pop art culture, blending these cultures and creating unique works of art.
Sheldon Starr (Oglala Sioux Tribe) is most creative in abstract painting and graphic design. He is still in the early stages of other fine art mediums, but still strives for experience in all fine art forms. Graduating from Oglala Lakota College with a degree in graphic art (2020), Starr continues to utilize his graphic design experience in the freelance and commission-based fields, creating custom graphics, logos and text for clients. Sheldon shows his creative freedom through abstract paintings based on geometric subjects and the female form. Paying homage to the traditional Lakota geometric designs and the aesthetics of the 1980s, Sheldon produces creative pieces that are engulfed in vibrant, saturated colors.
Missy Whiteman (Northern Arapaho and Kickapoo) is an Emmy-nominated writer, director, producer and multi-media artist. Missy understands her work to be a voice for her ancestors, their stories and ancestral wisdom. Her late father, Ernest Whiteman, influenced her work with the gift of artistic vision and practice of art as a ceremony.
Many of Missy’s films have screened on international, national and local venues such as The Walker Art Center, National Geographic All Roads Festival and Bilbao Spain. Missy is a current recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Media Arts, a Forecast Public Art Mid-Career grant and is the alumni of The Sundance Native Lab Fellowship and Jerome Fellowship for her short film project The Coyote Way: Going Back Home. Her current project, The Coyote Way X: Expanded Cinema is a multidimensional cinematic experience of The Coyote Way: Going Back Home short film intertwined with performance, live score, video mapping and 360/VR.
ABOUT THE MENTOR
Jonathan Thunder infuses his personal lens with real-time world experiences using a wide range of mediums. He is known for his surreal paintings, digitally animated films and installations in which he addresses subject matter of personal experience and social commentary. Jonathan is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and makes his home and studio in Duluth, MN.
He has attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM and studied Visual Effects and Motion Graphics in Minneapolis, MN at the Art Institute International. His work has been featured in many states, regional, and national exhibitions, as well as in local and international publications. Thunder is the recipient of a 2020-21 Pollock – Krasner Foundation Award for his risk taking in painting. Since his first solo exhibit in 2004, he has won several awards for his short films in national and international competitions. His painting and digital work is in the permanent collections of multiple Museums and Universities.
All My Relations Arts (AMRA) operates the All My Relations Gallery, Minnesota’s premier American Indian owned and operated contemporary fine arts gallery. Located on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, the gallery resides within the heart of the American Indian Cultural Corridor. AMRA presents four fine art exhibits throughout the year, as well as hosting tours, presentations, and programs.
The focus of AMRA is to provide the people of the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota, and beyond consistently high-quality exposure to Native American fine arts. As an initiative of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), All My Relations Arts serves a very distinct role in NACDI’s community development work, providing the public with education about American Indian history, culture, and contemporary experiences through the arts. Learn more about All My Relations Arts at allmyrelationsarts.com
Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) Our work is founded on the belief that all American Indian people have a place, purpose and a future strengthened by sustainable community development. NACDI initiates projects that benefit the Native community, often in partnership with other Indigenous-led organizations. Our future is bright due to the resilience and vision of our ancestors. Founded in 2007, NACDI is approaching its second decade with a renewed commitment to the Indigenous values that helped our people persevere despite centuries of hardship. Learn more at https://www.nacdi.org/
Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.
We Are Still Here is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.