Photo left: From left to right, Kay Carvajal Morán, Yessica Estrada Morales, Stephany Martinez Arias, Kathryn Wight and Guadalupe Estrada Pliego of Roosevelt’s Spanish Immersion Program served up pozole, horchata and Jamaican water in the cafeteria Food Court. (Photo by Candida Gonzalez)
By JILL BOOGREN
On a chilly Friday night in February, a marshmallow roast on the front lawn of Roosevelt High School beckoned visitors to warm their hands, enjoy a treat, and join the party. Inside the school, hallways were dimmed as the forced glare of fluorescent lighting was replaced by holiday lights, tea lights, lanterns and more. It was Roosevelt’s second of three annual Art Crawls, “Illumination,” which shone a light on art, community, and justice.
In the front entryway, guests were greeted with larger-than-life papier-mâché puppets of iconic peacemakers and agitators for justice—Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, John Lennon, Fred Rogers, Albert Einstein, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Rosa Parks. Collectively named “Dancing Ancestors,” they are the creations of Mary Plaster and have been seen at May Day Parades, marches and other events throughout the city and state.
Photo left: These papier mache “Dancing Ancestors,” created by artist Mary Plaster, stood in Roosevelt’s front entryway during the Art Crawl. From left: Mahatma Gandhi; Fred Rogers; Cesar Chavez; Albert Einstein. (Photo by Jill Boogren)
Alongside them were large photographic portraits of students from Wellstone International High School who shared their immigration stories and dreams as part of the Green Card Youth Voices collection. Their stories are now available in the book “Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School,” which won a gold medal last year for Best Multicultural Nonfiction Chapter Book in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.
Photo left: Large portraits of Wellstone International High School students who shared their immigration stories and dreams as part of Green Card Youth Voices lined the front hallway. Pictured left to right: Wendy Saint-Felix, from Haiti; Zaynab Abdi, Yemen; Willia Alonzo, Guatemala; Aksum and Tsion Woldeyes, Ethiopia. (Photo by Jill Boogren)
In the exhibit, iluminación, Roosevelt students expressed their fears through art and in letters addressed to President Trump. In her piece, entitled Temblor (Tremor), 11th-grade artist Ana Freeberg used a demon and gas mask to symbolize her struggles as a Mexican-American girl living in the United States, her wish for acceptance, and her desire to maintain both cultures in harmony.
Overall, the event was festive, celebratory, but it also carried a sense of urgency. The B-side of the program declared as much, in bold caps, “There is nothing more urgent than freedom,” challenging visitors to dig a little deeper into what it means to be in community.
“Illumination has always had multiple meanings for us,” said Roosevelt Fine Arts Coordinator Candida Gonzales. “I think it’s easiest to see how we’ve played with the theme of illumination with light and dark. But there’s also this meaning of illumination that’s referring to periods of time when people have become illuminated in their minds and their hearts and their spirits.”
Photo left: Back to front: Ava Rowan, Lexi Bilges, Giselle Berg, and Greta Boogren from Folwell Performing Arts Magnet performed Twenty One Pilots’ “Ride” and other pop songs as a ukulele quartet. (Photo by Candida Gonzalez)
Gonzalez explained the importance of the theme for African American History Month (February), which in particular examines the Civil Rights movement, a period when people became illuminated to the wrongs they needed to right in this country. She said we’ve found ourselves in the midst of another period of illumination.
“No matter who you voted for, you can see people in our immediate community are suffering, are scared, and are looking for ways to fight back against what they think is wrong,” said Gonzalez. “As always, we invite them to express their thoughts and feelings through art.”
One hallway was lined with four-foot-tall mirror shields, brought in to raise awareness about indigenous land and water rights. Created by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger in collaboration with Chris Lutter-Gardella and Rory Wakemup, the shields simulate water, playing with the light much like ripples on a moving river do the sunlight, creating a dazzling display. They symbolize the ability of artists to reflect our society and were also used at Standing Rock, North Dakota, to reflect back to officers what they looked like in riot gear holding batons.
In addition to art installations, community artists had jewelry for sale, assisted in creating a mosaic, and operated a printmaking station. The event also featured dance and musical performances—the RHS Jazz Combo lit up Door 19, and the Folwell Performing Arts Magnet pop choir, rock band, and ukulele quartet rocked out in the North Gym. In the auditorium, cast members performed a sneak preview of The Addams Family musical (coming up Apr. 27-29 at Roosevelt), and the improv group Teddy, Set, Go, riffed off of audience suggestions and delivered a good dose of comedy.
Various Roosevelt booster groups raising money for their school clubs made sure there was plenty of delicious food on hand, including pozole soup, sambusas, egg rolls, tacos, tamales, sweet treats, horchata, and more, making the event a feast for all the senses.
The next Art Crawl, “Mosaic,” will be Fri., May 19, 5-7pm. As always, the Art Crawl is free and open to the public.