Cameron Downey and JXTA share a vision

Downey '17 creates art inspired by Minneapolis community

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Cameron Downey and JXTA share a vision

The finished mural can be viewed on 1100 West Broadway.

The finished mural can be viewed on 1100 West Broadway.

photo submitted by Cameron Downey

The finished mural can be viewed on 1100 West Broadway.

photo submitted by Cameron Downey

photo submitted by Cameron Downey

The finished mural can be viewed on 1100 West Broadway.

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Cameron Downey ‘17 collected and cut out dozens of pictures of North Minneapolis residents this summer. No, she wasn’t taking up a new hobby of scrapbooking, she was creating a giant mural. The non profit organisation that she worked for, Juxtaposition Arts (or JXTA), sparked this project  that Downey dedicated her summer to.

Every summer, JXTA produces some piece of public art. “We’ll do murals or community pieces… anything that involves the community,” Downey says. This summer, they decided on a mural on W Broadway in North Minneapolis.

Cycling through ideas based on Prince, Muhammad Ali, and a Madonna and Child, they landed on a physical representation of what makes that community important: the people. Using  photos from their own collection as well as photos submitted by members of the community, Downey and other artists wanted to represent the influence people have on their environment.

Downey says, “we added people who we just felt like make North Minneapolis, what make the black community what it is now.”

The mural was heavily influenced by the graphic artist Emory Douglas who was an illustrator for the Black Panther Party when they had a magazine in the 70s and 80s. After talking with Douglas over the summer, the young artists incorporated his style of bold lines into the mural. She says, “we wanted to pay homage to him in some way.”

Downey’s love of art extends this three week project as she has always been in love with the ability to create anything with any material. “I think art is all around us, and it’s something… that ties all subjects together,” she mentions.

She says that the ability to find intersections between art and other subjects is so important in creating meaningful art. She has worked with most every medium of art, too. She took photography last year year and, when asked about this year, she laughs, “I tried filmmaking and I’m like, ‘this is nice!’”

Downey exhibits intersectionality in art, as she is constantly picking up new mediums to combine with her previous knowledge of art. “You can connect science and writing through art,” she says.

For Downey, art is also a way to accept the unknown. It allows the creator to deal with what has not yet been created, and perhaps discover something in the process. Downey adds, “Art is something that you can’t stray away from, and you can’t deny that art plays a huge role in connecting what we know and what we do not know or want to know.”

Though complex, this idea seems simple when Downey says it, as the unknown can be so debilitating. Not to Downey, though, as she sees the unknown as something that can be dealt with through art.

The mural that Downey and others created is on 1100 West Broadway, which she says, “hopefully will make people slow down and think about who they are now, and what type of community made them who they are.” Make an effort to stop by, slow down, and contemplate Downey’s words of advice about art.

Make something where people can slow down and think about who they are now, what type of community made them who they are.

Cameron Downey in the beginning stages of making the mural.

photo submitted by Cameron Downey
Cameron Downey in the beginning stages of making the mural.

A view of a partially completed mural, with photos of people from the community.

photo submitted by Cameron Downey
A view of a partially completed mural, with photos of people from the community.

Sketches from Cameron Downey's sketchbook outlines the ideas for the mural.

photo submitted by Cameron Downey
Sketches from Cameron Downey’s sketchbook outlines the ideas for the mural.

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