“It’s the People” Public Art Project

4 students standing

Minneapolis College Instructor Kristine Heykants worked with the Hennepin Theatre Trust and students of FAIR School in Downtown Minneapolis to create images surrounding the topic of Identity. Heykants teaches in the Photography and Digital Imaging Department and led a workshop for the teenagers to explore identity through photography.  

The FAIR School’s dedication to equity and social justice inspired Heykants to center the workshops around this subject.

“One of the things that I love and got me into teaching in the first place is the ability of the teacher to advocate for the interests of her students,” said Heykants. “Anytime we can work with young people to help them identify their values, to validate their values, embrace their values and advocate for their values. For me, that is the purest form of social justice.”

Heykant’s image is one of 5 billboards representing the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s first phase of this year's public art project titled “It’s the People.” The project centers around the different groups and types of people that make up the culture of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Themes include trans-equity, empowerment, gun violence prevention and Indigenous justice (specifically missing and murdered indigenous women). This is the second year for the public art project.  

This is Heykants’ first time working with the school, however, Heykants has led multiple workshops with teenagers in the past.

“I always am excited to jump when the opportunity presents itself because [teenagers] are so fresh and uninhibited and it’s such a pivotal time in their formative years,” said Heykants. “I’ve found it to be a really rewarding experience for me [creatively] and as a teacher.”

Due to COVID-19, Hennepin Theatre Trust has 3 implementation phases: digital billboards, static billboards and large-scale banners. Currently, digital billboards are displayed in 5 locations throughout downtown Minneapolis. Large-scale banners are scheduled to be displayed later this year. When CDC regulations allow for social gatherings, Hennepin Theatre Trust hopes to have events featuring each of the five artists, their subjects and community leaders on each respective theme.

For more information, please visit the “It’s the People” Public Art Project.

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