OUR SCENE | Amina Harper on art in the Twin Cities: There’s something for everyone, if you only look


I grew up in Minneapolis, and then a few years ago I spent two years at an art school in Portland, Oregon. Though I was told on numerous occasions that this school was a community of loving and attentive creators that were more like a family than a bunch of future career competitors, the feeling of community this school claimed to offer was contradictory to the feelings of loneliness I was experiencing daily. I left the school in Portland and came back to Minneapolis with a new resolve to become an artist without a degree (out of spite more than anything else).

The process of accomplishing this task launched me into a world that I had no clue existed within this city; a world that was made by people like me. To this day I’m a bit disappointed in myself; I thought that in order to find others who loved art as much as I did, I needed to move over 2,000 miles away. As it turns out I had the chance to eat at an artistic buffet right in my own backyard, where the chefs are always in the kitchen crafting new inspiring recipes.

As an artist living in Minneapolis I find that I’m rarely ever bored. There is always a new show to prepare for or a new project to collaborate on. And when there isn’t a project there are events, SO MANY EVENTS. There’s always something to do, somewhere to go, and something new to see. Rain or shine, summer or winter, there’s always a chance for an artistic experience. Whether it is an exhibition, a performance, a fashion show or a festival, there is something for everyone in every season.

I‘m always pleasantly surprised by the sharing and selflessness that I encounter; I’ve often reached out into darkness and found someone else reaching back with the intent of offering resources and as time goes on I find that I also have resources to share. There are an abundance of educational tools for artists to increase their abilities to navigate life as a creative person. Tons of local organizations and publications exist for the purpose of showing art to the world and showing artist that there is a world out there that appreciates them.

I believe whole-heartedly that if my friends succeed a small part of me succeeds with them, and vice versa. When we learn we should be held responsible for teaching what we’ve learned, passing on knowledge that we’ve gained for others to utilize. This act will hopefully create growth within the creative community which will then provide more opportunities for others.  And while the scene can be rather cliquey at times and there are some who abuse this process, the closeness of this community provides a safety net that keeps everyone in the know about that kind of negative behavior: everybody talks.

So there is a community out there for people who communicate using a visual aesthetic, but you have to be willing to get involved. The local art scene didn’t come to me, I had to seek it out and ask for help by talking to other artists, going to events, searching for galleries, and taking a proactive role in shaping how I exist within my community.