North Hennepin Community College Art Showcases ‘Authentic Truth’ About Race
Three murals spread across North Hennepin Community College’s campus in Brooklyn Park help show the school’s journey as it strives to create and nurture conversations about racial equity and diversity.
The latest work is done by world-renowned graffiti artist Peyton Scott Russell, a three-paneled mural titled “An Authentic Truth.” It was unveiled this week during an event on campus.
“Don’t worry about like what it says, don’t worry about what it might mean,” Russell urged those in attendance. “Just be in the space of it.”
Russell drew attention for his work on a stenciled George Floyd mural in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020. He also teaches graffiti as an art discipline and is working on an installation to honor indigenous people in the Nevada desert ahead of next year’s Burning Man event.
“I always intrinsically felt graffiti was so much more than this simple mindless vandalism that people always subjugated it to,” he said. “My intent was always to create and not to destroy.”
Kathy Hendrickson’s role as NHCC’s director of community impact is to help continue the school’s journey as a place of inclusiveness and welcoming for conversations like those the artwork inspires. Last year, the American Association of Colleges and Universities listed NHCC as a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center.
“It’s a new beginning of awareness on this campus,” said Hendrickson, who previously was dean of fine arts. “I’m really proud of North Hennepin, that we were allowed (to purchase and commission the artwork). We gave the money and were allowed at my helm to do this, so I feel very grateful. Just very grateful.”
She said the work continues by everyone on campus to recognize the need for a safe and welcoming place for all students to grow and achieve.
“We’ve been doing some real deep dives not only into our diversity work here on campus but also our commitment to that, so it’s not only what we do but it’s who we are here on campus,” she said.
Scott’s work can be viewed as a triple-paneled composition, or each of the three pieces can be displayed separately, he said.
“As an artist, as a storyteller, I’m trying to inspire people to be their best self,” Scott said. “I hope the energy of this work is doing that.”