Hennepin Theatre Trust announces photographers for the 2023-2024 season of It’s the People to highlight the vibrancy of the Twin Cities

It's The People 2022-2023 launch

Hennepin Theatre Trust, in partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, announced today the eight fine art portrait photographers whose work will be featured in the 2023 season of It’s the People, a major outdoor public art project inspired by the exceptional, everyday people who make up our community. Drew Arrieta, Jared Fessler, Kristine Heykants, Amy Sundby Jeanchaiyaphum, R.J. Kern, Andres Perez, Christopher Selleck and Shun Yong were selected based on their distinguished artistry in portrait photography as well as their proposed subjects that feature artists and art groups from the Twin Cities who have made a positive contribution to the Hennepin Theatre District through their work.

Now in its fifth year, the new cohort of It’s the People will run in conjunction with the first Minnesota Triennial Art Festival, led by Public Art Saint Paul, and their work will follow the theme of “network of mutuality” to highlight the interconnectedness of the Minnesota artistic community. The photographers will present their subjects on large-scale photo banners along Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, celebrating the artists whose experiences, contributions and stories create the unique vibrancy of our shared communities and the impact their art has on the Twin Cities.

It’s the People is the essence of what our vision and mission at Hennepin Theatre Trust is all about; uplifting members of our community who create a more vibrant and inclusive environment for all,” said Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “This project helps transform Hennepin Avenue into the thriving heart of Minneapolis and recognizes everyone in our community who works tirelessly to make this a brighter space for everyone who enters our venues or walks down our street.”

The portraits will be displayed in downtown Minneapolis on large-scale banners on building sides along Hennepin Avenue.

“We are excited to bring It’s the People back to downtown Minneapolis,” said Daniel Ballard, branch president of Clear Channel Outdoor’s Minneapolis division. “At Clear Channel, it is our goal to be a responsible member of the communities we serve by taking a proactive role in making our neighborhoods better places to live. We recognize, value and support the positive impact of the arts in our community, and are dedicated to improving and uplifting the lives of everyone in our city. We look forward to seeing Minneapolis wake up out of the Minnesota winter hibernation and come alive again with the start of It’s the People.

Meet the artists:

Drew Arrieta is a visual storyteller and artist whose work tells stories about resistance, reimagining our world and the magic of joy. His work shines a spotlight on people and their resilience. Photography is his primary medium because of its willingness to reveal truths and bare witness, making it the perfect medium to demonstrate humanity’s adaptability and strength.

Jared Fessler has enjoyed photography for as long as he can remember. He took a photography film class back in high school, but photography did not really come back to him until post-secondary education when he was trying to figure out what he was going to do next. Fessler invested in a camera and for fun, just started taking photos of everything but mostly enjoyed photographing people and once his work spread, people started reaching out to him to photograph them. He decided that if he was going to do this, he needed to learn more about his camera and photography. He decided to get his certificate in photography and to this day, Fessler still attends photography workshops and classes.

Kristine Heykants is a digital media artist with a curiosity about the influence of patriarchal traditions on women’s lives. She has long used varying genres of photography to examine gender roles and their presentation in history, religion and the media, as she seeks to provide a counterpoint to the mainstream narrative. Whether composing a portrait in an evocative location or in the studio, her artistic practice centers the stories of her subjects as community members. Carl Jung’s archetypes provide her with a framework for looking at the past, as she thinks about symbols and behaviors that have existed throughout time in the unconscious mind of us all. Working in a straight-forward and unromanticized photographic approach underscores the foundation of her work in the realism of contemporary life.

Amy Sundby Jeanchayaphum believes photography, like art, is universal. Photographs tell a story that words simply cannot convey. Images visually connect us to moments, memories and places. Communication and understanding are key. Jeanchayaphum successfully collaborates and co-creates with clients to achieve stunning visual imagery. While shooting, she continually adapts to unique personalities, settings and conditions. She has found that the best photographs often emerge organically.

With more than 20 years of national and international experience, a BFA from the University of Minnesota, her creative skills and talents are deeply rooted. Born in the Midwest, she has an inherent understanding of people, land, traditions and a knowledge of what people hold near and dear. Connecting to people and stories generates the inspiration and fuel for her creative nature.

R.J. Kern is a Minneapolis-based artist whose work explores ideas of home, ancestry and the sense of place. Inspired by master painters of the 19th-century, he embraces the heightened expressivity of natural and artificial lighting techniques paired with tableaux narration.

His awards and accolades include three Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2016, 2018, 2020). He was the Commemorative Artist for the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. His work has been presented in a number of publications, including a feature in National Geographic. Selected collections include: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Plains Art Museum, Minnesota Historical Society and Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Andres Perez is a Mexican-American artist exploring identity and culture through photography. Native to Acapulco, Guerrero, he   to Minnesota at the age of 18 and started working professionally as an artist in 2005. He is a self-taught photographer, beginning his career in graphic design and eventually pivoting into photography. Andres currently works at Pollen Midwest as an Art Director, and is focusing on portrait photography projects that benefit artists and their work.

Christopher Selleck was born in Augusta, GA.  He has spent the last twenty years working in and around the art scene of Minneapolis area.  He received his BFA in Photography from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2013 and his MFA in Visual Studies and Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2016.  Using sports and masculinity as a lens to view identity, his various projects of the last few years have focused on this area of identity construction.  His current projects address issues of hyper-masculinity, sexuality and the male body.

His work has always had an affinity for traditional forms of photography but with a more conceptual approach.  Working with film, instant and digital processes his practice has tended to focus on portrait and self-portrait-based projects.  Photographic prints and books have been central in his practice, but his work has also incorporated video, sound, installation, printmaking and sculpture.  He has been exhibited and published both Nationally and Regionally.

Shun Yong is a fine art photographer and multidisciplinary artist. A fear of loss, generational trauma and curiosity motivate him to make photographs. Yong’s Occupation series investigates his identity as a second-generation Chinese immigrant in Malaysia as well as a new immigrant to the U.S. Producing the Occupation series has not only helped him achieve a sense of belonging in both places, but also allows him to connect with family and strangers alike. Yong’s C-H-F investigates what motivates Asian climbers to take part in what is considered a “white” sport. He is also the co-founder of CarryOn Homes, a collaborative dedicated to telling the stories of immigrants and refugees in the U.S. through art. By engaging the public in cross-cultural dialogue, CarryOn Homes creates spaces for immigrants and marginalized communities to feel a sense of belonging and empowerment.

It’s the People is set to launch in July 2023 and is presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust with support from Clear Channel Outdoor.

To learn more about It’s the People, please visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org/ItsthePeople.