We Are Still Here
We Are Still Here – featuring Ray Janis, Sheldon Starr, Missy Whiteman, with mentor artist, Jonathan Thunder. As part of the inaugural collaboration between Hennepin Theatre Trust and All My Relations Arts, this exhibition features the culmination of works completed by the artists during their eighteen month cohort. The artworks include digital designs featured previously as billboards displayed in downtown Minneapolis, along Hennepin Avenue and throughout the Twin Cities. These works served to uplift Native voices and highlight truth-telling by changing the narrative of Native people in Minnesota. The art highlights contemporary Native culture while dispelling stereotypes through education, humor, and bold, thought-provoking designs. By interweaving contemporary and traditional storytelling, and the allyship of Indigenous communities here in the Twin Cities, We Are Still Here connects the Native history of the land and continued connections to our past using the powerful visuals and current narratives of contemporary Native artists.
On View: May 24th – July 2nd, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 28th 6-8pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, June 25th 6-8pm
About the digital artists’ cohort
We Are Still Here re-centers Native voices and stories in the Hennepin Theatre District and the Native American Cultural Corridor through the work of a Native artists’ cohort working in a variety of digital and analog media, leading to a large-scale public art project by fall 2020. All My Relations Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust have committed to this multiyear partnership to weave Native culture back into Hennepin Avenue with temporary and permanent art that engages Native and non-Native people in a deeper sense of place and share future.
Meet the artists
Raymond Janis (Oglala Lakota Tribe) goes by the artist name of Ray Rock Boy. Ray is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He grew up in the Medicine Root District also known as Kyle, South Dakota or Taopi Cikala.
Rock Boy started his art career teaching himself how to use Adobe Photoshop programs, which helped him elevate his art and knowledge in graphic design. He recently received his Associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Oglala Lakota College.
Ray “Rock Boy” is influenced by his Lakota heritage and pop art culture, blending these cultures and creating unique works of art.
To learn more about Rock Boy, follow him on Instagram.
Sheldon Starr (Oglala Sioux Tribe) is most creative in abstract painting and graphic design. He is still in the early stages of other fine art mediums, but still strives for experience in all fine art forms. Graduating from Oglala Lakota College with a degree in Graphic Arts (2020), Starr continues to utilize his graphic design experience in the free-lance and commission-based fields, creating custom graphics, logos, and text for clients. Sheldon shows his creative freedom through abstract paintings based on geometric subjects. Paying homage to the traditional Lakota geometric designs and the aesthetics of the 1980s, Sheldon Starr produces creative pieces that are engulfed in vibrant, saturated colors.
To learn more about Sheldon Starr, follow him on Instagram.
Missy Whiteman (Northern Arapaho and Kickapoo) is an Emmy-nominated writer, director, producer and multi-media artist. Missy understands her work to be a voice for her ancestors, their stories and ancestral wisdom. Her late father, Ernest Whiteman, influenced her work with the gift of artistic vision and practice of art as a ceremony.
Many of Missy’s films have screened on international, national and local venues such as The Walker Art Center, National Geographic All Roads Festival and Bilabo Spain. Missy is a current recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Media Arts, a Forecast Public Art Mid-Career grant and is the alumni of The Sundance Native Lab Fellowship and Jerome Fellowship for her short film project The Coyote Way: Going Back Home. Her current project, The Coyote Way X: Expanded Cinema is a multidimensional cinematic experience of The Coyote Way: Going Back Home short film intertwined with performance, live score, video mapping and 360/VR.
Meet the Mentor
Jonathan Thunder (b. 1977)
Thunder infuses his personal lens with real-time world experiences using a wide range of mediums. He is known for his surreal paintings, digitally animated films and installations in which he addresses subject matter of personal experience and social commentary. Jonathan is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and makes his home and studio in Duluth, MN.
He has attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM and studied Visual Effects and Motion Graphics in Minneapolis, MN at the Art Institute International. His work has been featured in many states, regional, and national exhibitions, as well as in local and international publications. Thunder is the recipient of a 2020-21 Pollock – Krasner Foundation Award for his risk taking in painting. Since his first solo exhibit in 2004, he has won several awards for his short films in national and international competitions. His painting and digital work is in the permanent collections of multiple Museums and Universities.
This exhibit was previously showcased at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Best Buy Foundation Gallery. It travels to All My Relations gallery May 24th and runs through July 2nd, 2022.
Image credit: Top left: We Will Always Be, Missy Whiteman; Top right: The Return of the Freaky Deaky Mashode Bizhiki, Jonathan Thunder; Bottom left: Caution: Rebooting, Sheldon Starr; Bottom right: Hechina maka akan unko iyanpi, Ray Janis
In partnership with Hennepin Theatre Trust.