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Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Artists selected for New Nicollet Redevelopment art installation

Lori Greene and Juliette Perine Myers were selected by a city panel to lead the creation of an artwork installation for the New Nicollet Redevelopment site.
Image by Debbie Cash (left) and Drew Arrieta (right). Photos courtesy of Witt Siasoco.
Greene (left) and Perine Myers (right) have worked together creating public art for about six years and will base the New Nicollet piece around community engagement.

After announcing an open call for artists in fall 2023, the city selected Minneapolis-based artists Lori Greene and Juliette Perine Myers to lead the creation of the New Nicollet Redevelopment art installation.

Once the open call was made, a selection committee was formed to evaluate artists’ applications. The panel was composed of nine members of varying expertise with roles such as an arts commissioner, an artist, a landscape architect, community and site representatives as well as city staff members, according to a committee meeting presentation.

Originally, the site of the Nicollet Avenue Kmart, the dilapidated building was demolished by the city in October, marking progress in the New Nicollet Redevelopment project.

The redevelopment project aims to reconnect Nicollet Avenue, restore traffic flow and reunite the south Minneapolis community by building new commercial and housing developments.

Artist applications were evaluated on project-specific criteria such as experience creating public art and flexibility, according to committee members Mary Altman, the city’s Public Art supervisor and Witt Siasoco, a contractor for the city’s Art in Public Places program.

Altman said a unique part of the selection criteria was the artists’ ability to cultivate longevity in both the artwork and artistic opportunities.

“These artists have two jobs,” Altman said. “One job is to create a work of public art that’s integrated into the new roadway and bridge that’s getting constructed, but the other job is to identify future opportunities for artists in that space.”

Greene and Perine Myers fit the bill.

The artists

Greene received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in art respectively from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

While attending graduate school, Greene accepted a commission to do public art and began her career as a working artist at 26 years old, an atypical path for most artists.

“I was really lucky because I got a grant right away out of grad school and was able to kind of just jump right in,” Greene said. “Not a very usual happenstance for an artist.”

Perine Myers attended college to pursue a double major in psychology and studio art, receiving her undergraduate degree from Macalester College and realizing a lifelong dream of becoming an artist.

Initially interested in a career in art therapy, Perine Myers later shifted her focus to community and public art while working for the non-profit Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment. 

Perine Myers said her work with the non-profit led her to her first public art commission where she worked and learned from Greene. 

“I was working with teenage girls who were immigrants and refugees who were mainly Korean, Somali, Ethiopian, and I wanted to do an art project with the girls,” Perine Myers said. “The people at the organization connected me to Lori because their office is across the street, and that’s how I met Lori.”

Greene and Perine Myers have since spent about six years working together creating public art of mosaics, sculptures and murals. The two said because most of their public art is outdoors, they have done a lot of experimenting with the construction and installation of pieces.

“We learn a lot from everything we do,” Greene said. “We have to use special equipment.”

“For this last project, we’re using a lift, and the installation process is always just super fun,” Perine Myers said.

The first three of five panels of “Survivors Memorial,” a mosaic art installation in Boom Island Park. Created by Lori Greene, assisted by Juliette Perine Myers and Tara Nielson. (Image by Photos by Sarah Whiting. Lori Greene (courtesy)

Community focus

Altman said it is important for the artists to connect to south Minneapolis for their art to anchor and enhance the community’s identity.

“These are existing neighborhoods, but this multi-block area is gonna be a brand new community with brand new buildings [and] brand new streets,” Altman said. “The public art can really help build the identity of that place.”

Experienced in creating art with local communities, Perine Myers said she and Greene thought applying for the New Nicollet project was a logical next step in their artistic endeavors.

“We’ve done so much work with communities that this felt like a really good fit for just the type of work that we like to do and that we love to do,” Perine Myers said.

Greene said creating art as a means of healing for not only herself but for a community is a crucial part of her artistic process throughout her career.

“I use art as a method of healing, and have from the beginning,” Greene said. “I often get hired to do projects that are around healing, so I’m not just healing for myself, but helping the community.”

Greene added that creating accessible art is key to her work and to making art with an impact on people’s lives.

“We try not to make it so that it’s so abstract that you don’t know what’s going on,” Greene said. “But also that if you’re not somebody who typically looks at art, that you still will respond to it.”

Perine Myers said the healing properties of creating art are similar to the ways public art can cultivate a sense of community.

“That experience of healing through making art and then public art and community art, I felt like [it] does a very similar thing because it allows opportunities for people to come together,” Perine Myers said. “More so as a community to contribute to an art piece that will go in their neighborhood or will go in a public space that is accessible to lots of people.”

Looking ahead

Although Greene and Perine Myers will spearhead the creative process for the New Nicollet art installation, they will not embark on the project alone. The pair will join the collective of people who have worked on the project, Siasoco said.

“There’s so many people that have been involved in this and our job really is to bring all those things that have happened over the last five to ten years and bring that to the table for Juliette and Lori,” Siasoco said.

Altman said the design of the New Nicollet space may present challenges to the design of the art installation. However, she is confident in what Greene and Perine Myers will create.

“For an artist, it’s a challenging space,” Altman said. “It’s also right out there where the people are, which is cool because it will be viewed by people going through the space in multiple ways, people in cars, people on bikes, people are walking and so I’m anxious to see what they come up with.”

Siasoco said in his experience as an artist, listening to the communities involved will be imperative to Greene and Perine Myers creating a timeless piece of art in Nicollet.

“Being in Juliet and Lori’s shoes is really thinking about what connects with people in this moment but also is compelling in 25 years,” Siasoco said. “That’s something that if [Greene and Perine Myers] do listen and they do reach the communities that are present and spend the time with them, it’s going to undoubtedly be a work that will stand the test of time.”

Perine Myers said as members of marginalized groups, she and Greene have long-standing values of focusing attention on the experiences of marginalized people, a practice they will incorporate into their community engagement process.

“In so many of the projects that we’ve done together, we really prioritize both centering and uplifting people in the community who have marginalized identities,” Perine said. “That’s just an important part of our engagement process is to kind of bring visibility to people that are not visible.”

Greene said she and Perine Myers’ ultimate goal with the New Nicollet Redevelopment project is not to create art for the south Minneapolis community, but rather create with.

“We’re all working on this together,” Greene said. “We’re not doing it to anyone.”

The city is hosting an open house event on March 7 to share design concepts for New Nicollet, hear feedback from the community and where Greene and Perine Myers will begin their community engagement process for the art installation. 

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