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Springboard for the Arts launched Artists Respond: Combating Social Isolation as an invitation to Minnesota artists to create small projects that create moments of joy, solace, solidarity, sharing, and a sense of connection – particularly for those who are feeling most isolated in these pandemic times.

Whether a Pen Pal zine for the rural LGBTQI+ community, a handmade postcard sent to clients of a mental health care facility, a culturally significant musical performance in the parking lot of a nursing home, or a live online monster painting class for school kids, Artists Respond projects are playing an important role in lifting spirits, combatting isolation and creating camaraderie through shared experiences.

Artists Respond: Combating Social Isolation was supported by the Kresge Foundation and the Blandin Foundation.

Springboard Staff

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List of Artist Projects

Silvana Agostoni: Home Together, a virtual zine cookbook
Minneapolis, MN
"For most of us, food rituals signify celebration, tradition/routine, faith, culture, and connection. In sharing our cultural heritage - in this case our family recipes- we build community."

Kelly Anderson: Art for seniors
Lakeville, MN
"Nursing home art time. I will create a custom piece of art that nursing home attendees can follow along with and create as well in the comfort of their own spaces."

Alyssa Anderson: Celebrating Winter with Songs
Minneapolis, MN
Musicians Alyssa Anderson and Dan Chouinard led seniors in a metro-area assisted living facility through a winter and holiday sing-along on a pre-recorded video made especially for them and included songs they requested in advance. This project was designed to facilitate connection between the musicians and the seniors remotely as well as to bring them the joy of making music by singing familiar songs.

Ahmed Anzaldua El Samkary: Villancicos, Posadas, and Carols
St. Paul, MN
Pop-up performances of carols and villancicos in the week after our annual "El Mesias" concert to lift people's spirits with some live Holiday Latinx music.

Laurel Armstrong: Feed the Ducks
Plymouth, MN
For a 6-week period, MN artists paired with a senior "buddy" to have weekly conversations about life and art, or attend a virtual performance together that was put on by one of the participating artists.

Alison Bergblom Johnson: Imaged Community
Minneapolis, MN
In Imaged Community, artists with disabilities reached out to other people with disabilities living in group settings with visual art printed on postcards and invited people who received artwork to make their own art and return it by mail to be included in an online exhibition.

Thomas Bierer: Little Big Band for Seniors
Mankato, MN
Thomas presented Swing Era Danceable Jazz standards for elder care facilities to use as a part of their programing.

Joanne Bolles: Lively music in multiple genres
Minneapolis, MN
"I connect specifically with seniors of all ages; sharing acoustic guitar and vocal music with them. I research music in multiple genres, and share jazz, pop, folk, celtic, country, gospel, r&b, polkas/waltzes, showtunes, etc."

Connie Chang: Transplanar RPG: An Original Dungeons & Dragons Virtual Show
Minneapolis, MN
"Transplanar RPG is an ALL-TRANS, POC-led, 100% homebrew Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition livestream set in a non-colonial, anti-orientalist world based on AAPI mythologies. Episodes of our main campaign air every other Saturday at 3pm CDT, and our programming also includes video game livestreams, online community game nights, player talkbacks, and a GM advice series."

Peg Churchwell: Wisdom through Windows
Alexandria, MN
Groups of yard signs with short bits of wisdom were be placed along windows and walking paths at the Lakewood Health System Care Center in Staples, MN. Residents and staff could view the yard signs looking through windows from inside the facility while visitors and community members could see the signs from the parking lot and from the roadways.

Joey Clark: THANKS-GIVING SONGS from Abiitan
Saint Paul, MN
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a dozen ABIITAN MILL CITY residents and/or essential care givers were chosen by lottery to make a video-recorded song dedication to a loved one - someone to whom they are THANKFUL for. Artist Joey Clark then turned these dedications into a virtual performance that could be seen online and shared with family and friends, far and near!

Vernita Clinton: Black Excellence: Come together once and for all
Minneapolis, MN
"We want to build solidarity in our community....we want to meet and have a dinner and discuss topics in a safe space without feeling judged... and form a bond and make positive connections with our community and neighbors.. A meal will always bring people together...we are having yellow rice chicken legs broccoli salad ginger lemonade pound cake peach cobbler and butter cookies..."

Nancy Cook: Faces of Immigrant Farmers
St Paul, MN
"Faces of Immigrant Farmers is a creative writing initiative that provides skills education to immigrant farmers interested in telling and sharing their stories. Aided by a professional writer and teaching artist, the participants learn ways to express themselves in stories and poems that can then be published in hardcopy, posted on social media forums, or just shared with family and friends."

Brianna Crockett: A Suite Duluth Tale: Nutcracker Behind the Scenes
Duluth, MN
"We miss you Duluth! The dancers of Minnesota Ballet want to invite the community to experience an exclusive look at the rehearsal process for our upcoming Nutcracker Suite, A Duluth Tale. The Nutcracker is a long-loved holiday tradition and we want to give you a behind-the-scenes view on how we are adjusting to rehearsal limitations and pushing to keep the Nutcracker spirit alive this year."

Bryce Davidson: Ohmni Bot Caricatures at Children's Hospital
Minneapolis, MN
With the help of advanced technology "Ohmni Robots", Bryce brought laughter, smiles, and inspiration to children at Children's Hospital through live virtual Caricatures.

Emily Dzieweczynski: Questions on Walls
Minneapolis, MN
"During the pandemic, we've come to realize that technology can both contribute to and allow us to connect over existential questions and collective confusion. Questions on Walls invites you to connect with strangers by answering questions placed throughout the city and empathize with the collective confusion by receiving existential musings to your email inbox."

Jessica Eckerstorfer: Story Threads
Minneapolis, MN
Whittier Park hosted a collaborative storytelling mural for the month of November. Participants weaved colorful pieces of yarn into the tapestry, adding their personal take to the story wall.

Ryan Evans: Sunny Songs
Saint Paul, MN
Sunny Songs was a participatory sing-along project hosted with the Wilder Foundation's memory loss program. The project was designed to provide social, memory, and sensory connection for people living with dementia.

Amy Felegy: Me & You Haiku
Minneapolis, MN
"Collaborate with a local artist - all you need is a seven-syllable phrase! Write the middle line of a haiku (a three-line, 5/7/5 syllable poem) to be turned into a shared art piece that you can keep."

Kris Frykman: Painted Poetic Postcards
Minneapolis, MN
"Painted Poetic Postcards have messages of hope and visual inspiration to lift the spirts of those living in a nursing/care facility and for those needing a sense of connection and hope during these trying times."

Roshan Ganu: AAPLI Library: Our Space. Our Zines
Minneapolis, MN
Aapli Library is a zine library focusing on personal narratives and is open to makers, readers and the general public. It is a physical and online space of sharing our personal stories through the medium of zines, to foster a human connection between us. Aapli Library is an attempt by Dennis Madamba and Roshan Ganu, two Twin Cities based narrative artists, to bring our stories together on a shelf and to uplift the voices of zine makers and readers through sharing, discussion and reflection.

Bonita Goggleye: Giving Back to the Elderly
Cass Lake, MN
Bonita selected 3-5 households whose home consisted of an elder or an elderly couple and presented them with a Holiday Meal Package.

Minneapolis, MN
"I will teach young girls how to love and maintain hairstyles and secure their personality. They will gain confidence with their hair, learn new styles and understand the importance of feeling beautiful."

Christy Goulet: Maddoodoswan (Sweat-lodge) teachings and songs
Dilworth, MN
"This traditional ceremony will inspire people through music and visual interpretation, as both children and adults will learn all of the understandings of utilizing this ceremony for health and well being! People can sing along (using a hand drum) or relax to the sound of spiritual healing through music."

Karen Gray: Virtual Juletrefest vs. Isolation
Spring Grove, MN
"Have you always wanted to make a kransekakke? Or rømmegrøt? We'll be demonstrating how to make Scandinavian foods that can be eaten all through the celebration of Juletrefest and beyond. The Julenisse will come and tell stories about what he does during Christmas."

Marya Hart: Speaking Out in a Safe Place
Minneapolis, MN

Madelyn Hartke: The Postmark Free Letter Exchange
Northfield, MN

Hamsa Hassan: Urban photography
Fridley, MN
This photography project invited youth ages 12-18 to take photos of the city life in downtown Minneapolis and our beautiful buildings.

Stephanie Henry: Live! Piano Hotline
Burnsville, MN
The Live Piano Hotline featured classical music, jazz, rock, Broadway, original compositions and more.

Asako Hirabayashi: When despair and darkness reign - cheer you up with beautiful music
Falcon Heights, MN
"A trumpet player with international credentials and a regular sub of Minnesota Orchestra, Takako Seimiya Senn and a virtuoso soloist Asako Hirabayashi who has won numerous awards as both harpsichordist and composer will bring beautiful Baroque music such as by J.S.Bach and H. Purcell to your home. We introduce our instruments and music - educational, inspiring and healing!"

Toni Hughes: All About Hymns
Minneapolis, MN
Just for Hymn created a short album that features some of Mom's favorite gospel hymns that are inspiring, uplifting and therapeutic for the spirit.

Snoti Jappah: Safe at home doesn't have to mean alone - A sing along virtual Performance
Brooklyn Park, MN
"Join a virtual experience of musical performance featuring original music, inspirational discussions and interactive dancing." This completed digital project will be available to view online in the safety of your homes.

Heidi Jeub: Far Away So Close
Saint Joseph
Heidi Jeub documented a 30 + minute conversation with an individual identifying as "isolated" (due to geography, illness, mobility, etc) through a painting and creative writing.

John Kellen: Wild Inside- Bringing the Wilderness to You
Willmar, MN
John Kellen produced a solo photography show of the natural beauty that surrounds us all and install professionally matted and framed images in a local nursing home in Willmar.

Cindy Kolling: "Where is Your Light?"
Gully, MN
Coloring art tips, and techniques combined with tidbits of interesting information and memory-sharing about the subject of Lefse Making (traditional Scandinavian Flatbread).

Jennifer Kramer: FOUNDWOMEN: the women behind famous men.
Jennifer Kramer hosted virtual screenings of the first episode of her series FOUND WOMEN: the women behind famous men.

Benjamin Kreibich: Trancending the Reel
Minneapolis, MN
Transcending the Reel is a completely free film photography program for trans people. For trans people, we will give them a 35mm camera, develop and scan your film for free, also having services available for a small fee for other folks.

Anne Labovitz: I am Grateful for You!
Saint Paul, MN
"I am grateful for you. COVID has meant an increase in isolation and lack of human interaction. Respond to those feelings by engaging in art activities--create and send a message of gratitude to a friend, neighbor or loved one."

Bethany Lacktorin: A Gift
Brooten, MN
A Gift was an interactive blank slate designed to instigate conversation between two strangers using only objects, shape and shadow.

Ashleigh Lambert: Little Free Coloring Book
Minneapolis, MN
"In these strange times, kids need art more than ever to process their feelings--even as many kids don't have access to art programs through school. Kids across Minneapolis can pick up a Little Free Coloring Book kit from Little Free Libraries across Minneapolis."

Sarah Larsson: The Backyard Klezmer Band
Minneapolis, MN
The Backyard Klezmer Band, which started rehearsing together in 2020 in (you guessed it) bandleader Sarah Larsson's backyard, seeks to build community around the joyful story-ful tradition of Jewish folk music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. We will bring a parking lot serenade of Jewish folk music to elders residing at Shalom Home, helping us break down the wall dividing the young generations from the elders who carry lived experience of this tradition.

Nancy Leasman: You've Got Mail
Long Prairie
Nancy connected with nearly 300 residents of extended care facilities by way of my original art reproduced on greeting cards and sharing a sense of holiday warmth.

Selena Lerma: Thanksgiving Thanks For the Elderly
Minneapolis, MN
"We will make large Thanksgiving cards and messages for the elderly in community nursing homes to bring joy during the holiday season which can be especially difficult for those without family during the holidays."

Erinn Liebhard: Jazz Dance From the Inside Out
St. Paul, MN
This interactive performance featured Twin Cities-based dance company Rhythmically Speaking sharing with you their approach to jazz dance from the inside out! The performance was outdoors to accommodate for Covid-19 safety precautions, and broke down the creative process of making dances driven by jazz music and ideas from the outside in.

heather c. lou: postcard project with the Sisters of Carondelet and Saint Joseph Worker Program
St. Paul, MN
hclou art partnered with members of the Saint Joseph Worker Program to distribute pre-stamped postcards with hclou art designs for community members in the Sisters of Carondelet Village to color/paint/draw.

Shannon Lucas Westrum: Weaving Winter Together
Bemidji, MN
Weavers of all experience levels were invited to weave simple Scandinavian inspired rattan snowflakes LIVE.

Rebecca Merblum: Your Dance
Minneapolis, MN
"Listen to the evolution of the Minuet! From Bach to Chad Hughes. Create your own dance while I play, submit and share for a live-stream event in which all of the dances will be featured."

Emilia Mettenbrink: Tiny Big Finale Balcony Concert - Swans Six Feet Apart
St. Paul, MN
Miniature Swan Lake Vignettes to live music.

Marcela Michelle: An Ensemble of Queer Dramaturgies
Minneapolis, MN
Lightning Rod held a four-part workshop series, exploring what we are calling "Queer Dramaturgies". Queer and trans artists were invited to engage in supporting and critiquing each other's work, thereby nurturing relationships and dreaming future strategies of art making for us, by us.

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel: Breath and Boogie!
St. Paul, MN
Breath and Boogie was a movement practice that centers the divinity of the human expression and honors the movement traditions of African Diaspora.

Patrick O'Brien: Sing-Along-With-Me!
St. Paul, MN
"Sing along with me to all your favorite songs. Watch the words appear on the screen, then just sing out and have some fun!"

Colleen O'Shaughnessy: Remembering Joy
St. Paul, MN
Performed by soprano Colleen O'Shaughnessy, "Remembering Joy" was a thirty-minute cumulative video series of performances of songs curated from the Golden Age and Broadway that brings joy and comfort to isolated seniors in memory care at the Alton Memory Care Center.

GenoOkok: How to create cartoon monsters
Brooklyn Park, MN
"I will be creating a series of cartoon monsters on an 8 by 8 canvas. Brooklyn Park youth who want to learn how to paint are welcome to paint along, or watch online as a form of entertainment."

Carolyn Olson: Ice Candles for Socially Isolated/Homebound
Duluth, MN
"In the tradition of Scandinavian ice candles bringing light into the dark winter I will work with community folks to create 24 ice (LED solar) candles to be placed outside windows of folks unable to go out or physically connect with others. This is a way for those unable to connect with others to be shown love and remembered during this difficult dark (actual and symbolic) time."

Esther Ouray: On the Day You were Born
Minneapolis, MN
"Neighborly puppet show On the Day You were Born. Celebrate the children and babies on the block!"

Yan Pang: How Can We Not Sing?
St. Paul, MN
Yan Pang hosted a workshop that took the audience through the creation process ultimately arriving at a final musical performance called How Can We Not Sing? The audience can engaged with Yan to reflect on social justice themes and how work in community helps to appreciate the vital role of art to bring us together.

Savannah Pemberton: Beading with Savannah
Cass Lake, MN

Maria Isa Perez-Hedges: LatinXpolis 2021
St. Paul, MN
LatinXpolis hit the virtual world as a Twin Cities Celebration of LatinX Movement through Art, Ritmo, and Dance.

Tara Perron: Children at heart
St. Paul, MN
"Ignite the child within! Remember when you'd listen to a story and your imagination would run wild. Patiently waiting for every twist and detail.. eager with anticipation for a spectacular ending. Please join me in storytelling, and reading childhood favorites as we let our child at heart be strong and free. Honoring the medicine of the heart."

Anne Pinkerton: No Stranger to Barriers/ Barriers will not make us Strangers
Minneapolis, MN
The Minnesota incarceration community created and shared pieces of original writing.

Mary Plaster: Windows into Grief
Duluth, MN
Duluth All Souls Night "Windows Into Grief" was a distanced, self-guided tour, driving or walking Superior Street, peering in the business fronts of the Downtown Arts and Lincoln Park Crafts districts.

Dani Prados: Deer Neighbors
Granite Falls, MN
"Get to know your neighbors, and maybe some other critters too! Live visits, Main Street art, and bring your own coffee. I will take portraits of community members and their lives, and conduct a Covid-safe informal interview to be live-streamed and housed permanently on Twitch and YouTube. Following the visit, print versions of the portraits and an edited profile will be displayed in a Main Street disused storefront window."

Kat Purcell: Studio he(ART)h Project
Minneapolis, MN
A weekly open studio slot was made available to artists living outdoors or in shelters.

Chris Rackley: Chris Rackley
Rochester, MN
Neighborhood residents of all ages collaborated to create a short, animated video that conveyed a sense of hope and solidarity.

Madeline Reagan: Relief Prints
Saint Paul, MN
Madeline created relief prints that were inspired by recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Small reminders, lovingly hand made, to remind individuals that someone knows what they're going through- a brief reminder that recovery is possible and that they are not alone.

Tinne Rosenmeier: Yes, And... ! Postcard and Improvisational Storytelling Exchange: Connecting elder performers to the Residents of Missions Nursing Home
Saint Paul, MN
Isolated elder performers exchanged postcards and improvised stories with the residents of Mission Nursing Home, in Plymouth, MN.

Jacob Roske: Fall Mix Tape for Combating Social Isolation
Minneapolis, MN
"I live in a building which is full of artists who have been socially isolated. Music is a powerful medium that has the ability to transcend and transform community. I will curate and upload an one hour long Digital Fall Music Mix Tape that people from my building can download for Combating Social Isolation. This music will bring hope, joy and happiness to various people in a time of separation and disconnection."

Garret Ross: Connecting through Chamber Music
Minneapolis, MN
Artu Duo digitally provided a concert of chamber music for cello and piano to the residents of the Episcopal Church Home.

Anne Sawyer: Snail Mail Art Swap
Minneapolis, MN
"Imagine the joy of getting a real, handmade piece of art through the US postal service from a friend! Imagine getting three, and making three to send to your friends!"

Jamie Schwaba: Sharing Creativity
Winona, MN
"Now is your chance to flex and stretch your creative muscles while also spreading joy to others. Artists of all ages and abilities are invited to participate in a month long art adventure that will encourage you to create four unique visual art projects that are designed to be shared with others. Participants will receive an art kit with supplies to create artist trading cards, artistic rocks, DIY Postcards, and a quilt square that will be sent in when completed to create a community quilt."

Dana Sikkila: Bring Up Banner Project
North Mankato, MN
The "Bring Up Banner Project" was a hands-on art making and advocacy project. Through conversations and sewing , youth ages 7-18 years old composed and created their own advocacy fabric flags that were then displayed in public spaces.

Susan Smith-Grier: Reaching In, Reaching Out: Sharing Stories While Making History
Brainerd, MN
"Storytelling is a vital part of our cultural experience and we are all storytellers. Through my stories, I show you how to share yours."

Douglas Spartz: Doug Spartz Christmas Show
Pine River, MN
Doug Spartz Christmas show featured an hour of timeless classic Christmas songs and a comedy sketch with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as they try to figure out how to do Christmas during a pandemic.

Phillip St John: Live & Local Friday's, a partnership with the Current Radio Block Live
Minneapolis, MN
"A partnership with The Current for Radio Block Live in studio session once a week on Fridays and title it "Live & Local Fridays" segment.  The Current partnered with vibrant and essential artists who are either of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, or Genre-Fluid."

Kathy Stewart: Cards That Care
Minneapolis, MN
Cards that Care was a project that brightened the day for isolated seniors. Photographs selected from the stewARTdezigns collection were handcrafted into greeting card packs and placed into gift bag for the organization Gifts for Seniors.

Abby Sunde: Native Strong - Home Art Kits for Native Youth
Bloomington, MN
Medicine Wheel Suncatcher and "Native Strong" keychain home art kits created for Native American Youth in the East Metro Area of the Twin Cities to make and keep. These projects included brief cultural teachings and encouraged resiliency and community during the extended period of social isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joko Sutrisno: Java 'n' Java: A Virtual Concert and Coffee Night
Saint Paul, MN
"What do tropical islands and your favorite hot drink have in common? They're both java and we would love to share some with you! Sip on a cup of coffee, we'll sip on ours, and relax as you enjoy a free virtual concert featuring traditional Indonesian music from the island of Java."

Katie Taylor: Not Alone, Never Was: A Penpal Zine
Minneapolis, MN
Not Alone, Never Was: A Penpal Zine was a zine made by and for rural LGBTQ+ folks who were experiencing an increased sense of isolation and loneliness during the pandemic. This zine gave folks the opportunity to share messages of hope, empathy, and solidarity to be distributed for free to anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and rural who wants it.

Allison Tenney: Secret Friendship Society
Red Wing, MN
"Come join the all new Secret Friendship Society. This group has chosen you to participate in an adventure that requires no more than one item you may already own that is not of high value. A box will be provided for you, along with instructions to join us!"

Cedar Thomas: Postcards for Joy with Touchstone Mental Health
Minneapolis, MN
Cedar Thomas (they/them) created collages and drawings on postcards which were delivered to residents and clients using programing through Touchstone Mental Health. Each postcard had a personalized message and art with an intention of bringing recipients a sense of joy or peace within their day to day life.

Artika Tyner: Harambee Moments of Joy
Saint  Paul, MN
"Let's Pull Together...this is the essence of Harambee which provides us with an opportunity to create moments of joy, solidarity, and sharing. Join our virtual book readings and storytelling time to pull together in combating social isolation."

Nancy Valentine: Signs of Unity
Underwood, MN
"Polarization and division has crept into the hearts of our communities and can be seen reflected in bold lettering on signs posted at the edge of our lawns. Here's our chance to share that we care - add your voice to the visual conversation, create your own "sign of unity" and remind others of what we can unite around."

Natalie VanBurkleo-Carbonara: Summit Music Parking Lot Concerts for Seniors
Bloomington, MN
Summit Music Parking Lot Concerts for Seniors organized and performed 38+ concerts in 9 communities during Covid months. These concerts were geared toward communities with balcony and window access so residents can listen and enjoy music safely from their homes.

Melissa Wickwire: Mug Hugs
Grand Marais, MN
"A handmade object can feel like a hug and provide connection in these isolating times. I plan to distribute handmade ceramic mugs to homebound elders receiving Meals on Wheels and invite correspondence to connect with these individuals."

Briauna Williams: HeArt; Healing & Art
Robbinsdale, MN
"I will be creating pieces of art with uplifting words and poems to be hand delivered to the ones who need it most in our community. It's such a warm feeling to open happy mail, to see vibrant colors and to hear a message that bring joy, hope and kindness."

Lacey Woida: Connecting Constellations
St. Paul, MN
The constellations zine opened a creative space for people with one or more of the following descriptions: OSDD/DID systems, complex dissociation, multiplicity, and plurality to share their own perspectives through art and writing.

Tobias Zikmund: Art For Our Elders!
Moorhead, MN
"Our elderly feel isolated, but we can help! Elementary students will create art and positive messages to send to nursing home residents."

More Artists Respond:

People, Place, Prosperity

A cohort of artists based in Saint Paul and Rural Minnesota that have created public projects that demonstrate the root causes that lead to the need for guaranteed income, and the impact of guaranteed income on the families and communities that are supported by it.

Learn more
Equitable Rural Futures

In 2021, artists Christy Goulet, Mai'a Williams, Joyce laPorte, Inkpa Mani, Michelle de la Vega, and Nancy XiáoRong Valentine developed new work centered on the theme of Equitable Rural Futures.

Learn more
Artists Respond on Creative Exchange

Read more about Artists Respond cohort members on Springboard's Creative Exchange platform.

Learn more