Arts and Culture

MN artists create messages of love, hope for front-line workers on metro billboards

A billboard with the message "Thank You."
Reggie LeFlore uses techniques developed in street art and illustration to develop portraits. His image is one of 10 which will rotate through 60 electronic billboards in the Twin Cities with messages of gratitude and love for people on the front-line of the coronavirus pandemic.
Courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

Sixty electronic billboards around the Twin Cities metro area are displaying artist-designed messages of love and gratitude for front-line workers battling the coronavirus.

The 10 images created by 11 Minnesota artists were commissioned by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. Director of engagement Joan Vonderbruggen said the billboards are particularly aimed at medical workers and other carers who are helping others at this difficult time.

"We thought, as people are traversing on the highways across the city, to and from, to do all this work for the community, what better way to just transform the landscape to tell them that we love them and to thank them for their courageous work," Vonderbruggen said.

Each artist was paid $500 for their design, and the billboard space was donated by Clear Channel. The designs will be displayed through May.

Vonderbruggen said the project also aimed to help the artists.

"Because a lot of their gigs have just vanished overnight, so we were excited to set an example of how you can mobilize a group of artists, pay them a stipend for their work, and allow them to do the really important work they are capable of doing for us," she said.

The billboards are spread across 15 towns in five metro counties. The designs will change every week as they rotate through the different sites.

Billboard says "Greetings from Minneapolis" and a hand with a puzzle piece
Edwin Yang's design is one of 10 which will appear on the Twin Cities electronic billboards in the coming weeks. The Art Connects Us All project is designed to support front-line workers in the coronavirus pandemic, while also providing work to 11 Minnesota artists.
Courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust
A billboard saying "Chantewaste: One's heart is good"
Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist located in St Paul.
Courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust
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