Fly, Space Bird, fly! Duluth City Hall changes up its artwork, bringing in new artists, colors, and stories

Space Bird by Michael, a middle school student in Duluth, is part of the latest rotating art exhibit in the Duluth City Hall, an effort to decolonize the art in this important civic space, and bring in new artists and new ideas.
Left: A bust of Michael Colalillo, a Duluth west sider, son of Italian immigrants, and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
Right: New student artwork from “Our Neighbors” exhibit.

Emily Larson became Duluth’s first female mayor in 2016, and one of the changes she’s brought to City Hall is new art for the walls. It’s a lesson that other civic leaders should follow.

The Duluth Art Institute now helps curate rotating art exhibits in City Hall’s rotunda and the Mayor’s reception room. The first rotunda installation (2018) was a series of Anishinaabe art by Anishinaabe artists, said Christina Woods, the Institute’s executive director. Another installation focused on what it’s like to be homeless in Duluth, including artistic renditions of recipes from the street.

“Lots of people living on the streets have beautiful art to offer and never have a chance to have gallery space,” Woods said. “It goes deep in building awareness among public officials about what life is like when you don’t have a home to go to or a place to keep your things.” Continue reading

Guest Blog: Duluth’s “Living Our Resiliency” Symposium an Opportunity for Healing and Change for City’s Native Peoples

Christina Woods
Christina Woods

On March 7, the All Nations Indigenous Center in Duluth and Churches United in Ministry (CHUM) held an event called “Living our Resiliency Symposium,” that brought together the city’s Indigenous people and people from the mostly white religious communities to discuss the historical and ongoing trauma that exists in Native American communities. Event Coordinator Christina Woods (Anishinaabe) was invited to write a guest blog to share about the event and follow up. It offers a powerful model for us to consider replicating in the metro area.

“As a life-long Catholic, I was certain my moral grounding through Catholicism was the compass I could rely on to guide all my decisions,” said a community leader who attended the Living Our Resiliency Symposium. “But now, my eyes are open.”

The March event brought together 100 members of the Duluth community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to view and discuss the Sheldon Wolfchild documentary, Doctrine of Discovery. The documentary is making its way into many communities through Christian faith venues. I believe these opportunities are to enlighten non-Indigenous people about the systemic oppression that has followed Indigenous peoples around the world. For us, it was important to use the documentary to help reveal eye-opening issues that plague the Indigenous community in Duluth.

The Symposium was unique in many ways. It was led by Indigenous elders and leaders. The parallel development model was used as a means to include religious leaders to participate in this important dialog. Continue reading