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NEWS: Forecast Public Art’s 2021 Grant Recipients

St. Paul-based Forecast Public Art announced today the recipients of its 2021 early- and mid-career artist grants. A total of $86,000 has been distributed to support 15 artists working on 13 separate projects, leadership and professional development activities, risk-taking, multidisciplinary approaches, and collaborative problem solving in the field of public art.

“The most beautiful thing about working in the arts is that I am always surrounded by people whose actual job it is to imagine the unimaginable,” said executive director Theresa Sweetland. “As an artist, the act of creation is a constant and evolving reimagining and it is that radical imagining that I believe we need now more than ever. We are proud to continue our decades long commitment to directly funding public artists and we appreciate the continued support and flexibility from McKnight and Jerome Foundations for making this commitment with us here in Minnesota. We can’t wait to see what this new round of grantees show us about the future of public art!”

Top (L-R): Claudia Valentino, Thomasina Topbear, Geno Okok, Shanai Matteson, Holly (Miskitoos) Henning.
Middle (L-R): Alyssa Baguss, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Wil Natzel, Taylan De Johnette, Khadijah M.
Bottom (L-R): Miré Regulus, Lacey Prpić Hedtke, Molly Van Avery, Erin Paradis, Meena Mangalvedhekar.

This recipients are:

Mid-Career Project Grantees ($10,000 each)

  • Claudia Valentino
  • Geno Okok
  • Holly (Miskitoos) Henning // City Mischief Murals
  • Shanai Matteson
  • Thomasina Topbear

Early-Career Project Grantees ($8,000 each)

  • Erin Paradis
  • Lacey Prpić Hedtke, with Molly Van Avery and Miré Regulus

Mid-Career Professional Development Grantees ($5,000 each)

  • Alyssa Baguss
  • Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Early-Career Research + Development Grantees ($2,500 each)

  • Meena Mangalvedhekar
  • Taylan De Johnette
  • Wil Natzel
  • Khadijah M

2021 Early-Career Project Grantees

Supports creation of a temporary or permanent public artwork anywhere in the state of Minnesota by an early-career Minnesota-based artist (made possible by funding from Jerome Foundation)

Erin Paradis

Silverwood Park Sculpture Production

Paradis will create a large ceramic sculpture to be installed at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony, MN. The piece will be large enough for viewers to engage with directly, walking in between and through the two arches that will be constructed. This will be Paradis’ largest solely ceramic sculpture to date and she is thrilled to be installing it on the beautiful island at Silverwood Park.


Lacey Prpić Hedtke, with Molly Van Avery and Miré Regulus

Free the Deeds

Free the Deeds is a collaboration between Molly Van Avery, Miré Regulus and Lacey Prpić Hedtke. Free the Deeds is a multi-faceted project involving (1) the creation vibrant lawn signs and an original print for Minneapolis homeowners who have erased their home’s racial covenant to display, and, (2) a page on the City of Lakes Community Land Trust’s website that features stories and portraits of elders who have been personally impacted by redlining. The project will also create a path for people to practice reparations by financially investing in Minneapolis’s first African American Community Land Trust.

Prpić Hedtke was previously a Forecast 2018 Early-Career Research and Development Grantee.

Van Avery was previously a Forecast Messages of Hope Mini-Grant recipient.

2021 Mid-Career Project Grantees

Supports the creation of a new, publicly accessible, temporary or permanent artwork anywhere in the state of Minnesota by a Minnesota-based mid-career public artist (made possible by funding from McKnight Foundation)


Claudia Valentino

Each One Teach One at La Alborada (New Dawn)

Claudia Valentino, a muralist since 2011, will create a large mural on prominent Latinx business, La Alborada, on Lake Street. Through the mural process she will teach 3 emerging BIPOC artists the technique of Polytab, a highly technical preparation and installation process, in order to democratize knowledge and grow the Twin Cities muralist community. She will create her own Polytab teaching methodology which will support her further development as a community engaged artist.

Valentino was a selected artist for the 2019 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival.


Geno Okok

A Beautiful world

Geno Okok will paint a large public mural entitled A Beautiful World on a massive wall between Crest View Elementary school and Kensington apartments in Brooklyn Park, MN. The mural will tell a visual story of the community and its residents and contain positive images like musical instruments, inspiring quotes and visuals of kids of all backgrounds playing together. Okok selected this location because it is close to the elementary school [the artist] attended.


Holly (Miskitoos) Henning  // City Mischief Murals

Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung (Good New Home in Ojibwe)

City Mischief Mural members will partner with the non-profit Ain Dah Yung Center to paint three murals with formerly homeless Native youth residing in Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung Center’s Permanent Supportive Housing Project, located in Frogtown Saint Paul.


Shanai Matteson

Overburden / Overlook : Mineview (Final Title TBD)

Shanai Matteson will create a traveling “overlook” or “mineview” centering diverse stories of women, work, and water from within Iron Range communities.


Thomasina Topbear

Reclaimed Spaces

Topbear will curate Reclaimed Spaces, a gallery exhibition and community event showcasing Indigenous graffiti and street artists. Reclaimed Spaces will take place at Indigenous Roots Cultural Center in the area known as Imniza Ska by the Dakota people. This event will reflect the unique perspective of what it means to reclaim land, sovereignty, Indigenous culture, and what the future looks like to Indigenous artists within the modern graffiti subculture. 

2021 Early-Career Research + Development Grantees

Supports early-career artists in public art-related research and development or with the planning phase of freely accessible public art installation or activity in Minnesota (made possible by funding from Jerome Foundation)


Meena Mangalvedhekar

Join the Circle

With Join the Circle, Mangalvedhekar seeks to create a proof of concept for a network of circular benches in the Minneapolis Phillips neighborhood as a community mental health resource for sharing and practicing interdependency. Mangalvedhekar’s research will identify ideal locations in the neighborhood to install benches, wood prototypes, and tests, develop the behavioral language and vocabulary necessary to introduce the objects, create a project plan, and budget to pursue permanent installations in near future.

Mangalvedhekar is a former member of the Board of Directors for Forecast Public Art.


Taylan De Johnette

Mural Making Classes for Emerging Local BIPOC Artists

De Johnette will develop classes on new mural making techniques for local, emerging BIPOC artists. One much-needed skill and technique is the parachute cloth method. Funds will be allocated toward stipends for professional instructors, program organizers and class materials so that artists will attend classes free of charge. These series of tutorials will aid in the completion of three different community murals in Northeast Minneapolis using parachute cloth method projected for July 2021.


Wil Natzel

Architectural Space Exploration Devices + 360 VR Exhibition

Natzel will develop a 360 degree VR exhibition of their architectural space exploration devices and fund the purchase of specialized pixel control LED lights and control systems.


Khadijah M

Studying the Stories of Elder Somali Women

Khadijah M will interview several elder Somali women in the Twin Cities about their lives in Somalia. In the nomadic tradition of Somalia, women play a significant role in the family and society. In addition to the caretakers, as builders of the home the families live in, women are the literal architects of society. They first build the round structure using tree branches and they cover the foundation with woven mats. This weaving style comes from the technique that women in Somalia use to weave mats to cover their homes. Using no loom or frame, nomadic women create intricate mats out of grasses, acacia tree fiber, and palm, then carry these mats across vast territories as they move with their herds. Though the homes look similar, no two are exactly the same; each one is personal to that family.


Khadijah M will study and examine each elder through stories, manipulatives, models and practice. In addition, they will also study carving techniques from the Women’s woodshop. Both of these elements will eventually allow the artist to present a project highlighting the stories and the different styles of home making.

2021 Mid-Career Professional Development Grantees

Supports Minnesota-based mid-career artists seeking to expand or advance their careers in the field of public art, through a project idea or participation in career-enhancing activities (made possible by funding from McKnight Foundation)


Alyssa Baguss

Exploring New Ways of Funding Experimental Public Art

Baguss is passionate about inspiring artists to pursue new ideas and finding them ways to financially support their experimental public art projects. With the Mid-Career Professional Development Grant, she plans to advance this calling through developing her entrepreneurial mindset, exploring alternative philanthropic business models and applying her findings to two experimental public art projects in 2021. This path of inquiry will support Baguss in preparing her application for the Bush Fellowship in 2021.

Baguss was previously a Forecast 2020 Mid-Career Project Grantee.


Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Research and Development for Motherland Orphans Project

Playwright and public practice artist Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay will develop the Motherland Orphans Project. She’ll engage Southeast Asian Americans who identify as “motherland orphans,” work with a dramaturg to develop a new full-length play, and work under the mentorship of an established curator to develop an accompanying exhibit. Vongsay will also participate in the Annual Convention And Public Art & Civic Design Conference.

Vongsay was previously a Forecast 2018 Early-Career Project Grantee.

Twin Cities Arts Reader