Artists Respond: People, Place, and Prosperity is a growing cohort of artists 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.
Originally launched in 2021 as a “sidecar” to the City of St. Paul’s People's Prosperity Pilot, the goal of Springboard’s Guaranteed Minimum Income pilot is to explore the impact of guaranteed income on artists, culture bearers and creative workers at a neighborhood level and to provide a national model for the inclusion of artists in policies that address economic inequity.
2023 Cohort Members
Michele Spaise (she/her/hers) is a photo video & shadow puppeteer artist. Currently producing Journey of the Heart, a shadow puppet film trilogy. Spaise is a Monkeybear Harmolotic alum and community member, and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Lab Fellow. Spaise also holds a Bachelor of Art & Minor in Experimental Intermedia Art from Metropolitan State University, and Post Baccalaureate in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Spaise is the Co-founder of Tantrum Art Collective & Organizer for B-Girl Be, and collaborates with other phenomenal artists to share space for art making and storytelling in Whittier, Rondo, and other communities in the Twin Cities. Spaise is a proud Momma and Grandma.
Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria (he/him) is a poet and long-time Frogtown community member especially focused on engaging and mentoring area youth. Rodrigo loves the neighborhood and its heart of art, activism, and history.Rodrigo values and models creativity and imagination in teamwork in both his roles as a professional soccer coach and a creative writer. Rodrigo is invested in Frogtown as a place to raise his family, as a local homeowner, and as a board member of the St. Paul Blackhawks Soccer Club. When not coaching soccer, he cooks, bikes, spends time with family and dreams of Peruvian food. He received his bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his MFA from Hamline University.
Torri Hanna (she/her/they/them) is a fiber artist with a focus on social justice and climate change awareness. She enjoys weaving and embroidery. When she doesn't have yarn in her hands, you can find her gardening and baking.
Arnée Martin (she/her/they/them) is a Black-Native (Edisto Natchez-Kusso) multidisciplinary visual artist and Arts educator originally from Kusso Land, “Charleston, South Carolina”. They hold a Bachelor of Arts from Converse College, Spartanburg, SC, and a Masters of Education in Teaching Visual Arts from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. Their practice incorporates photography and textile/fiber art; embracing a thoroughly process-driven handmade approach.
Their current body of work focuses on exploring body horror, queerness and decolonization through the medium of fibre arts. In addition to their artistic practice, Arnée also works as a Visual Arts educator, teaching elementary students in St. Paul, MN. They are also an amateur powerlifter and recently lifted 350lbs - in press-on NAILS - for the 'Drop Deadlift Gorgeous' fundraiser.
Sara’i Aliyyima al-Jamal spent her formative years immersed in the ineffable love for dance, world percussion, and singing originating from North Africa, the Middle East, and Spain. After earning a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Dance (cum laude) from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, she entered the Shadhdhuliyya Sufi Order founded in Egypt. As the depth of her adoration for the Beloved magnifies His embrace, the downpour of mystical Union outpours poetry (qasidas, nasheeds, marqabat), dhikrs, parables, songs, and sacred movement. All to serve the same cause—for the Face of Allah.
Kandace Creel Falcón (they/them/their) is an interdisciplinary feminist scholar, writer, and visual artist based in rural Erhard, MN. Drawn to inquiry and mixed-media methods of painting, fabric arts, and writing, their work is committed to sharing narratives for social transformation.
Jess Torgerson (she/her/hers) is a multidisciplinary artist, designer, curator, and community organizer, who grew up in rural West Central Minnesota. A lifelong artist, Jess received a BS in Apparel & Textiles and Art/Printmaking from NDSU, and Body Art licensing from the state of Minnesota. She spent the majority of her adulthood living in metro areas, moving back to her hometown of Fergus Falls in 2017. Jess is a proponent of rural arts and works with regional arts organizations and within local artist collectives. She is passionate about using the arts as a means to advocate for social and environmental justice.
Alicia Thao (she/her/hers) is a queer Hmong American singer-songwriter who is Tulsa-raised and Saint Paul-based. Well-versed in a variety of genres, she identifies as an experimental indie/folk/soul/RnB performing artist. Her songwriting often explores her Asian American identity, growing pains, mental health, queerness, and love. Thao's music has been played on the popular Twin Cities music radio station The Current, featured by Twin Cities PBS, and has written music for the short film, "The Wind Always Strikes the Highest Mountain."
2022 Cohort Members
Kashimana (she/her) is a mother, musician, vocalist, composer, producer and teaching artist with a rich soulful blues voice that soars through their original compositions. The name Kashimana means 'that's their heart' and you can hear Kashimana’s heart beating in the compelling sound of their music which is an exploration of Soul, R&B, Folk, Afro-funk and more. Kashimana often draws from her Nigerian heritage and experiences growing up in Nigeria and Kenya and living in the United States.
Kashimana is a 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, a 2019 In Common Composer in Residence and a Cedar Commissioned Artist ‘Phantom Cries’. Kashimana is also the co-creator of a MN Opera MNiature Opera, a contributing artist and composer to The Art of The Revolution Twin Cities Community Album ‘Mama’ and a composer on a Sprig of That trio latest album ‘Eight Threads - The Only One’. Check out Kashimana’s latest single “Oh Yes Flow” on Bandcamp. https://kashimana.bandcamp.com
Nicole Mary Milligan and The Milligan Studio, collaborates with communities worldwide. Their most recent project, "Lake of Dreams,” for Minneapolis’ Lake Street, filled the heart of that community with handmade boats covered with hundreds of photos of neighborhood residents as a way to honor MLK’s quote, “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.” A Yaddo Fellow, Nicole has received grants and fellowships from The Bush Foundation, PEN America, NEA, Jerome, Minnesota State Arts Board, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Florida Arts Council, McKnight, Whiting Foundation, and others. www.themilliganstudio.com
Briauna Williams (she/her) is a self taught acrylic artist, muralist, published illustrator, teaching artist and community engagement artist inspired to create art for her black community that inspires her. Storytelling with paint highlighting the resilience of community as well. Believing in the strength of our black and brown communities. Curating events that uplift and empower others with sharing tools of healing through art. www.instagram.com/briauna.williams
Katey DeCelle (sher/her) is a storyteller. Whether it is through writing, photography, film or audio production, she likes to tell stories of those who are often unheard and seeks out stories that put a spotlight on the unseen or marginalized. Her work celebrates our differences while illustrating our many similarities. She is an audio and video producer for Sounds Powerful Productions, a company she founded in 2017. She is the co-founder and co-director for the non-profit Frogtown Tuned-In, which houses the low-power radio station WFNU Frogtown Community Radio 94.1 FM in Saint Paul. Katey is also a mom, writer, filmmaker, radio host, music DJ and PCA for disabled adults. She was born and raised and lives in her favorite city, Saint Paul, Minnesota. www.kateyd.com
DejaJoelle (she/her) is an African Centered - Healing Artist, Choreographer, Director, and Cultural Healing Curator. She believes Dance serves as our connection to ourselves, our communities, and our overall Divinity. DejaJoelle creates intentional spaces for Black, LGBTQ2, and Deaf community to discover their own practices toward Healing using Dance, Body Reclamation, and other Healing practices. As the world experiences collective hurt and grief, DejaJoelle trusts that our greatest act of REVOLUTION and REBELLION against hatred and corruption is Self-Love and Healing. As she refuses to fuel the fire of destruction and heinousness, she instead focuses her Art and energy on properly handling Black people who continue to be mishandled. www.bodyprayersaesthetic.com
Artists Respond: People, Place, and Prosperity is a project of the City of Saint Paul and Springboard for the Arts, supported by Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, the Economic Security Project, the Ford Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.