ST. PAUL -- Local artists including Thomas Stillday Jr. and an artist collective from Walpole Island First Nation were recently awarded "Art in this Present Moment" grants from the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation.

"Art in This Present Moment, a foundation initiative with funding from the McKnight Foundation, has for the second year provided grants to support the work of Minnesota artists who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color," a release said. "This year’s grantees are artists selected by Twin Cities nonprofits In Black Ink and In Progress and Bemidji-based Manidoo Ogitigaan."

Manidoo Ogitigaan is a grassroots Native-led nonprofit, with the mission of working with its communities to preserve and revitalize the spiritual knowledge, language, culture and ceremonies of the Anishinaabeg to improve the health of its members, the release said.

The first group to receive a grant was the artist collective from Walpole Island First Nation Collective’s bark canoe-building project. Artists on the project included: Kaitlyn Grenier; Rachel Austin, Black/Catawba; Walpole Island First Nation member Laban Smith; White Earth Ojibwe member Zac Earley; and Red Lake Nation members Ty Stately, Kevin Rosebear, Robert Fineday and Victoria Fineday.

Also receiving a grant was Thomas Stillday Jr., an Indigenous beadwork artist who mixes unique stitching techniques with a distinct choice of colors to distinguish his beadwork style. He has made work using the lazy stitch style of beading mixed with applique flatwork, the release said.

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Each artist or artist collective received $9,000 for work created in real-time that reflected themes and stories important to their community.

“The artists selected this year represent excellence in their genres and have a unique ability to capture individual perspectives and experiences that uplift the critical importance of justice and cultural understanding,” said Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with the Foundation in supporting these visual expressions of artistic voice, perspective and heritage.”