ADVOCATES, Portraits of Activists

In these tumultuous times, local artists have created a collection of portraits of activists. These portraits will be on display in Cargill Gallery at Minneapolis Central Library, Sunday, October 17-Tuesday, November 30.

Minneapolis has undergone unprecedented social and political upheavals. During this time of climate change and pandemic, the city witnessed the murder of George Floyd and demands for racial equity and justice. Many people have been galvanized by activists to awaken and act.

The portraits are of individuals who have worked to make positive change. Some are historical, some from distant lands and others are local. It is an attempt to acknowledge the role of activists in social transformation. Hope is realized when people work together.

The exhibition is organized by Keith Christensen in conjunction with the other artists. The participants are from diverse backgrounds, and each brings their own perspective and artistic approach. All are engaged with local communities in need that struggle for better. Collectively the work is meant to honor the people who are making a beneficial impact in the world.


Cadex Herrera lives in the Twin Cities and is an immigrant from Belize. He is an educator, photographer, illustrator and muralist. His practice includes figurative work and portraits about social justice. He has worked with CLUES, Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, in a mural apprenticeship program that lead to his involvement as a lead artist of the iconic George Floyd mural located at the site of the murder. Cadex’s current work is a large-scale portrait installation that is part of the “First Person Plural” project at Purgatory Creek Park in Eden Prairie, MN.

Adam Johnson lives in Minneapolis. He is an educator who previously taught in the Peace Corp and in the Bronx, NY. His artistic practice includes drawing, painting and poster design. He has painted portraits that honor victims of police brutality as well as civil rights leaders. He raises awareness of injustices and has provided numerous posters for activists, teachers and students. His work has been used in many demonstrations that have had wide media exposure. Adam recently exhibited his work at the Colorwheel Gallery in Minneapolis.

Lissa Karpeh lives in the Twin Cities and is a Liberian-American artist whose work is informed by her first-generation immigrant identity and background in mental health work. She is an educator and founder of @freeincolor that provides programming for youth, women of color and immigrant communities. Her practice includes painting and murals. She has been involved in numerous street art projects and murals in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Lissa’s work was in the recent “Breaking the Silence: International Women’s Day” virtual exhibition at MIA.

Maria Cristina Tavera lives in Minneapolis and is an educator, curator, writer, printmaker and public artist. She has exhibited paintings, prints, mixed media, sculpture widely. Her work was shown on George Floyd Square billboard in July, 2021. Her work was presented in a solo exhibition “La Movida (The Hustle)” at the NE Sculpture Gallery, Minneapolis in August, 2021. Cristina will have a solo exhibition of her work “Homeward Bound” at the Staniar Gallery, Washington Lee University, Virginia in November 2021.

Xavier Tavera lives is Minneapolis and is an educator, photographer, printmaker and public artist. His work has been exhibited widely in the US, Mexico and Europe. He was featured on the Minnesota PBS program Minnesota Originals for his portrait photography. He presented a solo exhibition/project, “Borderlands,” in Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2018. One of Xavier’s recent projects is “Deported Veterans.”

Keith Christensen lives is Minneapolis and is an educator, designer and public artist. His practice includes painting and drawing. He provides design services for the East Side Freedom Library that works for equity and labor solidarity. He co-painted the St. Paul Labor History Mural for the St. Paul Labor Center. A recent project is a book and installation; “Game Change; Learning from the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike of 1934.”

Mike Rivard is a Twin Cities filmmaker who has documented arts, politics, and culture since the 1970s. He is currently working on the project DISSENT MINNESOTA, a street-level view of protests in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Rivard’s work has won numerous awards including for his work on the Heart of the Beast May Day Festival shown at the Twin Cities Film Festival. He has had numerous showings of his documentary work on Public Television.