In loving memory of Philando Castile, Pollen presents a community portrait of grief, protest, power, and love contributed by 25 artists mostly from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.


 

Could we please give the police departments to the grandmothers?

x-ova

 

Give them the salaries and the pensions and the city vehicles, but make them a fleet of vintage corvettes, jaguars and cadillacs, with white leather interior. Diamond in the back, sunroof top and digging the scene with the gangsta lean.

 

Let the cars be badass!

 

You would hear the old school jams like Patti Labelle, Anita Baker and Al Green. You would hear Sweet Honey in the Rock harmonizing on “We who believe in freedom will not rest” bumping out the speakers.

 

And they got the booming system.

 

If you up to mischief, they will pick you up swiftly in their sweet ride and look at you until you catch shame and look down at your lap. She asks you if you are hungry and you say “yes” and of course you are. She got a crown of dreadlocks and on the dashboard you see brown faces like yours, shea buttered and loved up.

 

And there are no precincts.

 

Just love temples, that got spaces to meditate and eat delicious food. Mangoes, blueberries, nectarines, cornbread, peas and rice, fried plantain, fufu, yams, greens, okra, pecan pie, salad and lemonade.

 

Things that make your mouth water and soul arrive…

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The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
But while my sister ain’t equal & my brother can’t breathe
Hand and hand with my family, we will fill these streets

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“And you are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.”

 
Claudia Rankine, “Stop and Frisk”

It’s Okay

She is made of
Diamonds. She is four years old and wears
pink and blue beads, sometimes
barrettes, in her braided hair. Maybe
chewing bubblegum
is her favorite, and possibly she likes the swings
best of all
at the park
Her voice certainly glitters
Her voice
has always glittered, it
has never needed
your permission, your invitation
your blessing

Last Wednesday night, she
sat buckled in the car’s backseat
on the way home from the
grocery store. Maybe
she was chewing bubblegum. Her bedtime routine
most likely would have been next in the order
of weeknight things
But
a nearby police car slowed its suburban patrol
when the car she was riding in passed
One of the officers noticed how
the other car’s driver
had a wide-set nose
He fit the description

In less than two minutes, she
listened as police officers
pull the car she was riding in over and
give orders. She saw the driver and her mother follow
those orders. Might be the officer, now pointing his gun
at the driver, didn’t see her
in the backseat. He therefore never would have
noticed the colorful beads
in her hair. He definitely knew nothing
about the driver, a man who just shopped for groceries,
a man who just had a family dinner and
got his haircut earlier that evening.


In less than two minutes
she, four years old, watched
one of the police officers
shoot the driver again and again, then
begin screaming at her mother. It must have
felt like forever
The driver fit the description
He was following orders
He was not the man

 

Make no mistake, she still has
a glittering voice. Possibly it won’t shine as bright
for a minute. Certainly it
glittered as clear and big as it could
for her mother
while fear worked a crooked mess
last Wednesday night. Her voice a devotional
from the car’s backseat:
It’s okay Mommy
I’m right here with you

 

For Philando, Diamond, and Dae’Anna

I don’t want to overstate or downplay the importance of the mural we created together. The power of any piece of art is self evident and not for the creators to decide. But what I think was undeniably good about it, was it created a new point of entry (or departure?) for people who need another way to protest. It’s not an alternative, it widens the scope of the protests. It assists the marches and occupations. It heals, because we know that while marching is important, it depletes people.

The mural turns protesting into an ecosystem instead of an act.


—Jeremiah Bey

WHAT DO WE TELL OUR CHILDREN WHEN…

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EDUCATION DIDN’T MATTER.

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COMPLIANCE DIDN’T MATTER.
AGE DIDN’T MATTER.

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YOUR GUILT / INNOCENCE DIDN’T MATTER.

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OUR OUTRAGE DIDN’T MATTER. STRAIGHT UP HD EVIDENCE DIDN’T MATTER. THE TRUTH IS OUR LIVES DO MATTER.

“While we were painting the mural, a kid rolled up around 3 am. He stared a while, said nothing, then rolled away.”
— Andres Guzman

I can’t sleep.
Again.
My jaw hurts.
The eye tic replaced with clenching my teeth—
Even in sleep.

 

Images.
Flashing lights,
Police in military gear
In formation on I94.
A swelling crowd
Whose anger, pain palpable on screen.

Flashback:
1960’s Civil Rights Movement
Flashback:
L.A Riots
Flashback. Flashback. Flashback. Flashback.
Last year
Last month
Yesterday
This election season

 

How much more can we take?

 

All those Facebook posts
Swirling in my head:
I am devastated
I want to DO SOMETHING…but I don’t know how
I don’t know what to say
I don’t know how to help
Someone tell me what I need to do to help make this stop…

I will answer.
I will lay out the steps.
I will follow the example my ancestors laid down with their battered lives
I will echo what has been eloquently written, powerfully spoken, consistently shown
for generations
I will say it with a new twist and in less words for our short attention span.
I will…

 

But first I must unclench my jaw,
Acknowledge my rage
on this never-ending journey
of compressing
a lifetime of trauma
into capsules of resilience
that
are
easy
to
swallow.


 

So give the police departments to the grandmas, they are fearless, classy and actualized. Blossomed from love. They wear what they want and say what they please.

x-ova

 

Believe that.

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There wouldn’t be noise citations when the grandmas ride through our streets, blasting Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Alice Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, KRS-One. All that good music. The kids gonna hula hoop to it and sell her lemonade made from heirloom pink lemons and maple syrup. The car is solar powered and carbon footprint-less, the grandmas designed the technology themselves.

 

At night they park the cars in a circle so all can sit in them with the sun roofs down, and look at the stars, talk about astrological signs, what to plant tomorrow based on the moons mood and help you memorize Audre Lorde and James Baldwin quotes. She always looks you in the eye and acknowledges the light in you with no hesitation or fear. And grandma loves you fiercely forever.

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She sees the pain in our bravado, the confusion in our anger, the depth behind our coldness. Grandma know what oppression has done to our souls and is gonna change it one love temple at a time. She has no fear.

‪#‎PhilandoCastile‬, may you live again…
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…by us saying your name even though you belong to the ancestors now.
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— Dameun Strange

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Leslie Barlow
Leslie Barlow is an artist living and working in Minneapolis, MN. Primarily an oil painter, Barlow's current work uses the figure and narrative elements to talk about issues related to multiculturalism, "otherness", and identity. Barlow received her BFA in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin- Stout and her MFA in 2016 from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Barlow has exhibited her work throughout the Midwest and has received numerous awards for her paintings. Most recently she received a Third Place award in the Minnesota State Fair Juried Exhibition in 2015 for a large oil painting from her latest series. She appeared in the season 7 television segment of tpt's Minnesota Original, airing April 2016, and was published in the "Best New Art 2016" list in Minnesota Monthly Magazine. In the fall of 2016 her work can also be seen at the new US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, where she was commissioned by the Vikings team to create 6 portrait paintings of iconic Vikings players.
Jeremiah Bey
Jeremiah Bey is a visual artist and storyteller. He was born and raised in North Minneapolis as one of four children, and credits growing up in a full house with teaching him the value of multiple perspectives, and the importance of other voices in the creative process. Jeremiah is a Givens Black Writers Fellow, a U of M Center for Urban and Regional Affairs Artists Neighborhood Partnership Initiative Grant recipient, an Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI) fellow, and a John Biggers Seed Project fellow. He most prides himself in his community work. He works as both an independent artist, and a Juxtaposition Arts roster artist – in both capacities, working to build the social conscience of youth and the community at large. Jeremiah has been a part of planning, and/or leading a number of community arts efforts including summer workshops at Ancestry Books and Learning Works, the POC and Indigenous Peoples’ Figure Drawings Sessions, and The Firehouse Collective – a group of community members and artists seeking to change the inequitable practices in land development. You can see his public mural work in various neighborhoods around North and South Minneapolis, including the Central neighborhood, Cedar-Riverside, and Near North.
Kahlil Brewington
Kahlil Brewington is a human being that enjoys the the Drums, Art/Design, Motorcycles, and Manchester United.

He is a Web Designer / Art Director / Creative Director based in Minneapolis. His overarching goal is to create work that delights the audience for which it was intended, and he prides himself in his ability to do just that.

He wants to create, and maintain an environment where wonderful, unexpected work gets created.
D.A. Bullock
D.A. Bullock has been an award-winning cinematographer, writer and director for over 15 years. In 2011, he founded Bully Creative Shop in Minneapolis. D.A. was also named a 2014 McKnight Foundation / IFP Minnesota Media Arts Fellow.
Jazzmyn Coker
Jazzmyn Coker is a Senior in the Communication Design BFA program at the University of North Texas. Since the summer of 2015, she has been sharing her illustrations on social media in efforts to connect with other artists and celebrate people of color.
Ashley Fairbanks
Ashley Fairbanks is an Anishinaabe woman and citizen of the White Earth Nation. She operates as a socially-conscious designer and public artist. She works with a cohort of artists that do racial justice popular education and organizing. She seeks to use her design skills to activate people around issues ranging from police brutality to environmental justice. She has worked with the Energy Action Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth to create campaigns around the KXL and Sandpiper pipelines and protecting our water from mining.

Ashley sits on the board of Voices for Racial Justice. She went to the University of Minnesota to study American Indian studies and Political Science, and has completed Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute, NACDI’s Native Organizing and Leadership Institute, The Humphrey School’s Roy Wilkins Community Policy Fellowship and is a 2016 Forecast Public Art Emerging Public Artist Grantee.
Venessa Fuentes
Venessa Fuentes writes poems and essays. Her poetry appears in Between the Heart and the Land/Entre el Corazón y la Tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest (March/ABRAZO Press, 2001), and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007). From 2011 through 2015, she was the assistant editor for online journal The Acentos Review, a showcase of Latino/Latina writing and visual art. One of her personal essays is featured in A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2016). She is at work on an opera project about Alberta Williams King, activist and mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with composer Dameun Maurice Strange. Venessa is an arts advocate who lives in South Minneapolis with her son, her wife, and their two dogs.
Andres Guzman
Andres hails from Lima Peru. After receiving his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art + Design in 2009, he has been working as a freelance illustrator/designer in Minneapolis. His clients include MTV, Nickelodeon, Rhymesayers Entertainment, Wired magazine, Dephect clothing, Colossal Blimp, Picturemachine Productions, ditch Edit, The New Republic, Bloomberg—Business, and many independent musicians such as I Self Devine, Greg Grease, I.B.E, K.Raydio & Psymun, The Maykit, and Sloslylove.
Jordan Hamilton
Jordan is a multi-media Minneapolis based artist, who has primarily worked as a muralist, painter, art educator, and sculptor. He has worked heavily in the Phillips neighborhood and the West Bank of South Minneapolis doing community murals. He is also working with a team to incorporate art which helps to create a holistic healing environment at HCMC. Internationally, he has been a visiting artist at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Jordan has trained in community organizing through SPEAC, a training group of which he was a founding member. He strives to build community using art as a tool for communication, expression, and collaboration.
Oliva Levins Holden
Olivia is an artist, muralist, historian, storyteller, and educator. She is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota where she grew up making art, playing soccer, participating in political theater, exploring, and making mischief.
Jon Hunt
Jon Hunt is a creative director at BI Worldwide and a designer for Sundazed Music/Modern Harmonic.
Rita Farmer
Rita Farmer is a stay-at-home mother first and a photographer, dreamer, storyteller, and content-creator second. She is the co-founder of @Minnstameets, an organization that builds community and inspires creativity through unique photographic experiences. She is a proud resident of Northeast Minneapolis where she lives with her husband, 4-yr-old son, 2-yr-old daughter, and their ornery Boston Terrier.
Eliesa Johnson
Eliesa Johnson is a Minneapolis based photographer and the owner of Eliesa Johnson, Photogen Inc., Rivets and Roses, and ELIESA Consults. Her works is regularly featured in Food & Wine Magazine, MPLS / St. Paul Magazine, The James Beard Foundation, Delta Sky and various ad agencies.

"It is my goal to create visual stories and find the connection between the subject and the viewer. I like to show the moments that are unseen and share them with the world."

Eliesa and her crew are located in NE Minneapolis and travel often.
Jayanthi Kyle
Jayanthi Kyle is a songstress dedicated to singing from the heart. She collects songs that speak to her struggle, empowerment and ability to be, change, and move forward while honoring the unremembered changers and movers of the past. She enjoys singing for people passing worlds being born or dying or passed. She refers to as arrivals and departures. She is in a number of bands and projects in the Twin Cities including Gospel Machine, The Give Get Sistet, Miss Pennie's Microphone, Bain, Romantica, Passed Presents, Black Audience, and Jayanthi Kyle and the Crybabies. She continues to work with The Million Artist Movement to dismantle white supremacy and support Black liberation. She also works with Mama Mosaic on a "Minnesota girls are not for sale" piece that has been performed for eight years seeking freedom for women and girl sex slaves in Minnesota. People Power Change. ARTIST STATEMENT: I sing because I feel healing from it and I want to offer that to others. I always hope that my voice makes people feel like they want to sing too. Then the real healing can begin from their own soul. Never be afraid to lift your voice. Practice the gift of exercising your voice.
Allegra Lockstadt
Allegra Lockstadt is a Canadian native raised in Lexington, Kentucky. In 2006, she moved to Minneapolis to pursue a BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Allegra graduated from MCAD in 2010 and currently works as freelance illustrator, designer, interdisciplinary artist, arts exhibition installer, and event producer. Some of her current and past clients include Envision Minneapolis, Rookie Mag, City Pages, Paper Darts, Storey Publications, Racked, The Verge, and Pollen Midwest to name a few.
David Maxwell
David is a 23-year-young artist, corporate accountant, and sneaker connoisseur with a passion for smart design and a mild pizza addiction. He was born in Lomé, Togo, was raised in Paris, France but found a third home in the Twin Cities, learning English and pursuing his bachelor's degree. He is the founder of a content creating collective called Upperclassmen - a group of designers, writers, artists and photographers with an unique view on lifestyle and menswear. Outside of design and art direction, he is part of a group of musicians, enjoys traveling, and likes to remain involved in the creative community by attending shows/events.
Aundria Sheppard Morgan
Aundria Sheppard Morgan is the author of Cross My Heart and Hope to Die, (2004), a memoir of love, tragedy and truth. “Writing has always been my lifeline and serves as the tool to make sense of a world I don’t always get.” Aundria holds a bachelors of arts in communications from Metropolitan State University. Smiling Is Not Resilience (seeking publication), is more than a sequel to her first memoir; it provides a social responsibility perspective that challenges the “mantras of hope” we utter in response to pain and suffering—our own, others, societal. Aundria is a native of Brooklyn, New York and currently lives and works in Minneapolis.
Junauda Petrus
Junauda is a writer, performance artist, dancer, creator, aerialist, educator, good auntie, facilitator of love and joyful moments. She loves to write about what she feels is real and unescapable from her soul’s introspection/retrospection. Creating art is what makes her happy and is the easiest way for her to problem-solve, heal and transform reality. Junauda Petrus is co-founder of Free Black Dirt.
Nellie Pierce
Nell grew up in both southern California and southern Maine, and is now based in Minneapolis, MN. She was blessed with creative roots, raised by a mother who wore paint clothes more often than not and a father who always had a story in his pocket. She channels her mother in her work both through her learned strokes and through the imagery itself - as all of her paintings of boats, barns, etc. are based off of her photography. She has been teaching in the arts (dance, visual & theater) since 2007, working in summer camps, nonprofits, prisons, and public schools. She currently teaches through the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis as well as through Articulture, a local nonprofit. She believes that the arts can be a vehicle for self and social reflection, critique, and change.
Bobby Rogers
Bobby Rogers is a professional illustrator, photographer, and art director whose work occupies a realm fusing the worlds of design and fine art. As a traditionally trained illustrator and self taught photographer, he creates intensely expressive, celestial, and emotive work exploring technical extremes to exhibit a blend reminiscent of nostalgia, euphoria, passion, and elegance.
Lula Saleh
{ l X l V the Lily } pronounced L-X-L-V-the-Lily, is a combination of the artist's first name and her favorite flower. Lily is also a word play on her first name.

Eritrean/Ethiopian, raised in Saudi Arabia and the U.K., and now a Minnesotan, who found herself in Atlanta..
Ryan Stopera
Ryan Stopera is a photographer, videographer, social worker, community organizer,and entrepreneur. He has worked in direct social services and grassroots community organizing for over ten years. This privilege has allowed Ryan to build a vast amount of relationships and experiences constructing a deep analysis of the social issues our communities face today. During the Occupy Wall Street movement, Ryan produced a video sharing the story of five homeowners in foreclosure with Bank of America. The video, which included the cell phone number of Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, asked the nation to call and demand he negotiate with the homeowners who were victims of the mortgage crisis. By the second day of the video going viral executives from the office of the CEO contacted each of the homeowners to help them negotiate their foreclosure and avoid homelessness. He recognized the power of media as a tool to create powerful narratives that can be used to create social change.
Dameun Strange
Dameun Strange is a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow and part of the Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Team. He is also an artist, activist, and organizer. Born and raised in Washington, DC, he got his start in high school advocating for the homeless, neighborhood safety, and statehood. Dameun has worked locally for such organizations as ACORN, MN UNITED, and Grassroots Solutions to organize around voting rights, arts advocacy, LGBTQ rights and dismantling racism.
Sarah White
Sarah is a Minneapolis-based DJ, musician, and photographer who specializes in portraits, events, music and street culture. Self-taught, this hobby naturally morphed into a career while spending five years in New York, camera always in hand. Sarah’s work has been exhibited in various galleries and exhibitions in NYC and Minneapolis, and she is currently deepening her skills while pursuing a degree in fine arts.