Colorful works of art have popped up throughout the Twin Cities to honor the memory of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25. Using boarded-up buildings, city walls, and sidewalks as their canvasses, many artists have shown solidarity through their own unique art styles.
Minneapolis artist Seitu Jones created a stencil titled #bluesforgeorge, which can be downloaded and comes with instructions for free on his website. Jones asks recreators to share their results on social media, using the hashtag #blues4george and tagging @seitukjones.
Other artists, like those of the cohort of Studio 400, have painted a handful of murals around the Twin Cities, too. One mural painted at the Seward Community Co-op on 38th Street reads, “Performative allyship will not suffice. Demand justice.” Another mural at that location by Studio 400 member Maiya Lea Hartman features a child in the foreground, holding a sign that reads “We are the future they fought for,” and wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, with two elders in the background.
On Chicago Avenue, local Mari Hernandez painted a long list of names of people killed at the hands of police. Nearby, artists Anna Barber and Connor Wright created the “Say Their Names Cemetery,” in an open greenspace. The art installation is comprised of 100 headstones inscribed with the names of Black people killed by police. The nonprofit Preserve Minneapolis is asking locals to contribute to a public, online exhibition of street art by sending photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local artist Jose Dominguez is behind two colorful murals commemorating George Floyd. He has been working in the Twin Cities shortly after graduating from Winona State University in 2015. Dominguez says he is inspired by the flat colors and bold outlines of cartoons and children’s books from the early ‘90s. His work often features pastel colors and fantastical characters.
Minnesota Monthly asked Dominguez about his participation in mural installations in the Twin Cities.
How did you and Alex Lakin come up with the concept behind your “Flowers for Floyd” mural?
JD: It began with a combination of things. I kept imagining the upright clenched fist, but it didn’t fully convey everything I was feeling. I created a combination of the fist and a flower, a symbol of solidarity and fighting for peace. The imagery also symbolizes grief and mourning through the action of bringing flowers for George Floyd (hence the title “Flowers for Floyd”). The main figure is a character I’ve drawn in the past, only I changed the hands to make a heart shape instead of two thumbs up. Alex helped me arrange the separate ideas into a working composition. She’s always around to offer feedback and encouragement while I’m making work.
And how did you come up with the concept for your other mural, “A New Day”?
JD: This one was very spontaneous without prior planning. Andres Guzman, a friend in the art community, invited me to come out the day before. My work has always been about people or community interactions, and that seemed to be a natural bridge between everything going on and my work. I was mostly focused on making work that felt natural and hopeful.
A good number of people have painted large-scale portraits of George Floyd to memorialize him. Why did you take a different approach and how do you feel it honors Floyd’s memory?
JD: The first wall I was invited to contribute to already had a beautiful 9-foot-tall portrait of George Floyd, by Andres Guzman. I approached this initial wall with caution and consideration because I’ve never dealt with making work that commemorates someone especially under such circumstances. I hope the work I’ve contributed expresses my solidarity with the rest of the community.
You said in an Instagram caption: “I’m also honored to share my work with the community in hopes of healing and hope for the future.” How do you think art can help heal the community during this time and always?
JD: While painting a mural won’t directly bring systemic change, it does offer hope and solidarity. The process of making art can be therapeutic and bring relief and understanding. We can experience all of these stages of healing through these murals as both the artist and the viewer.
Give Back to MN Artists
Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Its St. Paul location was recently damaged from looting and rioting. Donate to Springboard’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund here.
Upstream Arts amplifies the voice and choice of individuals with disabilities. Donate here.
Juxtaposition Arts is a nonprofit youth art and design education center, gallery, retail shop, and artist studio space in North Minneapolis. Its building suffered property damage recently. Donate here.
Fallout Urban Arts Center has a mission to nurture creativity, diversity and community for young and emerging artists, and to benefit the less fortunate through creative programs, positive environments, and service initiatives. Donate here.