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Published June 12, 2024

Artist spotlight: Get to know local artists

Here’s nine local artists to keep on your radar.

We’re lucky to live in a city with so much art, but how do we keep track of it all? Well, for starters, here’s a list of a few notable local artists.

Artist Heather Friedli poses for a portrait with two of her dogs on Sunday, April 25. Friedli creates “land and heritage inspired” paintings, in addition to being a snow sculptor. (Emily Urfer)

Heather Friedli: Heather Friedli is a St. Paul-based contemporary impressionist, painting the beauty of Minnesota and beyond with a dazzling color palette inspired by her land and heritage as an Odawa, Xicana, American woman. The oil painter and professional sculptor grew up finding solace in the flowers that grew through the pavement cracks in Los Angeles. So when she spent six and a half months hiking the Appalachian Trail, wonderstruck by what she saw and itching to paint it all, she knew that she’d make a career out of painting nature. Support Friedli’s art here and here.

Courtesy of Jill Kittock

Jill Kittock: If you ask Northeast Minneapolis-based illustrator Jill Kittock what themes underlie her work, her response will be “humans doing things.” Old photographs of people going about their day, food and lowbrow culture inspire her colorful, digitally-painted works. You can find her most recent work on Summit Brewing’s limited edition commemorative screen print poster, that celebrates the 88th anniversary of Repeal Day. Check out Jill’s other works here.

Courtesy of Gabriela Sierra Bedon

Gabriela Sierra Bedon: Recent University of Minnesota alum Gabriela Sierra Bedon uses a palette of pastel and bright colors to create her work that centers representation, beauty and connection. Her first solo show, Belonging, Together, on exhibition at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, holds space for women of color. The exhibition features 15 different portraits and “responds to their historical lack of representation in Minnesota both culturally and in the art world.” Check out more of Bedon’s work here, here.

Photo by Rubinski Works, courtesy of Leeya Rose Jackson

Leeya Rose Jackson: The art director, multi-disciplinary artist and creative founder of Noisemakers Design, Leeya Rose Jackson goes by @leeyamakesnoise on Instagram for a reason. Currently living in South Minneapolis, Jackson describes her own art as loud — full of patterns, color and culture. As a queer Black woman, Jackson’s inspiration comes from representing the “beauty and joy of the general BIPOC community and LBTQIA+ community,” she said. Jackson has tons of projects underway, but here, here and here are a few you should check out.

Courtesy of Barrett Lee

Barret Lee: Mixed media artist Barret Lee takes his inspiration from 90’s animation — think “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” and “Doug” — and comics to create art that blends illustrative characters with narrative driven worlds. Lee’s working on his art for his own solo showing at Gamut Gallery in the fall, but until then support his art here.

A photo of Maggie Thomspon (Courtesy of Jaida Grey Eagle)

Maggie Thompson of Makwa Studios: Maggie Thompson’s artistic journey began in fourth grade when she learned how to knit. Many years later, the textile artist switched from her studies in architecture to textiles, drawn to creating something immediate with her hands. Thompson’s work explores identity, culture, authenticity, grief and loss in relation to the psychology of the body. You can find Thompson’s “Family Portrait,” on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Support her art here.

Artist Lizzie Christian poses for a portrait with one of her prints on Monday, April 26. Christian is the block print artist behind “Rare Press.” (Emily Urfer)

Lizzie Christian: The words of affirmation printmaker Lizzie Christian writes on her print pieces — “just existing is plenty for today” or “open your mind and then commit to real change” — are words of wisdom she has given herself once or twice. Christian, a University of Minnesota alum and daughter of Allen Christian from West Bank’s House of Balls, also teaches occasional workshops at Rock, Paper, Scissors in the Whittier neighborhood. Support her art here.

Courtesy of Philipo Dyauli

Philipo Dyauli: Raised in Tanzania, Philipo Dyauli creates work that centers his experience of life in the U.S. and East Africa, taking inspiration from African music, films and nature. Dyauli isn’t just a self-taught illustrator and painter; he also gives back to his Minneapolis community through his work at the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association, his full-time work at Partners in Quality Care and his efforts to raise awareness of police brutality. Check out his art here.


Maggie Cole: New Brighton-based illustrator Maggie Cole draws imaginary portraits of people — mainly women — from her mind. You can find her whimsical work, rarely without a pop of bright red, on her Instagram, or check out her brand, Super Exclusive Stuff. Check out her art here.

Correction: a previous version of this story misspelled Gabriela Sierra Bedon’s name. 

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