“It’s the People” Public Art Project
Inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue, It’s the People is a major outdoor public art project that captures the heart and soul of the people who make Minneapolis’ most famous street so richly unique.
As the project enters its third year, these large-scale portraits join existing murals and public art projects in the District with captivating portraits shot by renowned Minnesota artists showcasing themes including identity, empowerment, trans equity, community outreach through violence prevention and social justices for missing and murdered indigenous women. These images are displayed on Clear Channel Outdoor billboards across the region, street pole banners that line Hennepin Avenue and in the programming the Trust produces to support artists” work in our It’s the People Virtual Roundtable series (see below).
New! Check out the It’s the People Virtual Roundtable series which features conversations with our 2020 It’s the People portrait photographers, the subjects of their portraits and experts tackling the tough issues the portraits address.
Joan Vorderbruggen, director of Hennepin Theatre District engagement for the Trust, said, “These artists are not only providing breathtaking images, they’re telling amazing stories in a new way that will bring appreciation to the historic legacy of Hennepin Avenue.”
Artist Nikki McComb, who has a long history of combining art with violence prevention as a community leader, used her portrait as a way to showcase the unsung heroes on the front line who work to end gun violence through community outreach. “Art, and the means of artistic process, can aid in trauma-informed care,” McComb said. For those who are affected by gun violence with friends or family members who have been shot or killed, McComb says that they don’t get to tell those stories without backlash or tears. “I use my skills to allow them to tell their stories through photographs.”
Photographer Ryan Coit captures beauty in all types of individuals using the human form to express their sexuality and identity. “This was an opportunity for people’s voices to be heard,” said Coit. His work features trans-identifying service men who are accomplished LGBTQ+ community leaders in the Twin Cities. He hopes his contribution to It’s the People will help build a stronger community. “These giant portraits are going to be on the streets and it’s going to bring people’s stories to light.”
“Art has a special way to connect us. And the portraits of these remarkable people remind us of the creativity, generosity and resiliency of our neighbors,” said Stephen Glynn of UBS Wealth Management, the project’s presenting sponsor.
“Supporting the arts, education and cultural diversity is one of our core tenets, and we’re proud to stand in partnership with Hennepin Theatre Trust and UBS Wealth Management to support It’s the People,” said Daniel Ballard, Minneapolis Branch President of Clear Channel Outdoor.
Participating artists include:
Ryan Coit is an international photographer exploring the human form with images that capture beauty in all types of individuals expressing their sexuality and identity.
Chad Germann is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribe of Minnesota and the Founder/CEO of Red Circle ad agency. His portrait is of a mother and daughter from Turtle Mountain displaying a defiantly regal pose of protection.
Kristine Heykants combines storytelling and art to find unearthed beauty in the familiar. She looks to the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes to describe roles played by humans throughout history. Heykants led high school students from the FAIR School Downtown to explore identity through the lens of photography.
Nikki McComb is the Executive Director of Art is My Weapon: Creatively Addressing Violence. McComb chose her subjects because she felt strongly that violence prevention strategies, and the people on the front lines and behind the scenes, deserve recognition as silent heroes who show up every day to positively impact communities on Hennepin Avenue.
Lucas Wells is a performer driven by a love for the arts. He wanted to showcase Spotlight Education's past, present and future and chose three Asian American women highlighting their empowering inspiration with their high accomplishments and lasting impacts to the program.