We Are Present. | A reflection on curating the Festival de las Calaveras Arts Exhibition: Día de los Muertos

By Ana Laura Juarez

This curation is unique to me because I am not only curating my first art exhibit,  I am curating a cultural celebration. I am honored to be working with Deborah Ramos, founder of Tlalnepantla Arts, the individual who has reminded me every step of the way that this show is for the Latinx community, and by the  Latinx community.  Day of the Dead is an indigenous Mexican tradition that has survived colonization and adapted to both catholic and secular groups. By helping to make this show a reality, I am part of a larger effort to keep Day of the Dead in our hands. This exhibit is extremely important, as the Latinx community continues to be attacked in the media, in our homes, and in our minds.

I have never celebrated Day of the Dead in my home or with the community. At times I have felt like an imposter. I have the privilege of putting a show together that I don’t deserve to be doing. Those are my insecurities creeping up. As a Mexican American,  I struggle with owning parts of my cultural identity. I haven’t  had the opportunity – for example- to be a part of a procession to the graves of my family on Day of the Dead. I don’t know where those graves lie in the first place. That is why this art exhibit, and its opening reception is extremely important. My goal is to give Latinxs a sense of community, regardless of the fact that we don’t all  practice the same ancestral remembrance.

While curating the exhibit, I’ve worked with Deborah Ramos to make sure that we are indeed creating something that is accessible, respectful of the tradition, and powerful.  In the United States, Latinxs in my generation and on are learning about Day of the Dead through YouTube face-painting tutorials and Halloween parties with no context of its cultural significance.  In many ways, this tradition is under attack.  As a person who has lived, and breathed Day of the Dead for many years now, Deborah let me know early on in our collaboration – “All the while we are organizing and promoting Day of the Dead, we will also need to protect it.”

In this show we are present in honoring our ancestors. We are present in honoring the lives taken away to silence individuals. We are present to honor lives that were killed by police brutality. We are present in honoring the duality of life and death! All are welcome to the show and I can’t wait to see everyone!! Save the date! The opening reception is on the 28th of September and will be beautiful!

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My Time At Up & Out: Coming Home

Up & Out: Coming Home was a two-day multidisciplinary art festival put on by the Youth Leadership Council that featured artwork to celebrate queer and trans youth. There was a live gallery, performance art, a panel and a fashion show. I attended Day 1 and was so impressed by the art at this event. The voices of these artists were so strongly displayed through their work and I am glad Up & Out gave them a platform to be featured.

All the components of the festival were incredible. It amazes me that everything there was created by youth. The amount of emotion that the work portrayed really resonated with me. I thought the performance piece was especially interesting. The piece titled 81316240am, consisted of Colie, the artist,  lying on the floor blindfolded surrounded by various paint trays and a sign saying “paint me”. People were taking turns painting colorful pictures on her body while she lay there still. I was most curious about the title, I was able to talk to Colie after the show she told me the title represented the date and time she wrote the piece. I inquired about her inspiration behind the piece. She discussed that she wrote this piece to display the amount of influence people have based on the amount of vulnerability they are willing to display.

I appreciated her piece because I think influence and vulnerability are very powerful in their own forms as well as combined. I took her piece as using our own vulnerability as a form of influence. In leadership, sometimes we need to show our vulnerabilities in order to build meaningful relationships that will help us succeed. Over the past year I have been making it a point to be more vulnerable with the people around me. I used to see it as a sign of weakness, but my mindset has completely changed and now I see it as an ultimate sign of strength.

One other piece that stood out to me the most was one of the films that was shown titled Truthful Innards by Margaret Polzine. The film is supposed to represent four stages of physical trauma: depersonalization, isolation, anger and finally, healing. I remember feeling some discomfort while watching it which I believe was the intent. Polzine was able to reach out to the audience and make them feel these stages to a small extent. I remember thinking “Wow this is making me a bit uncomfortable but I can’t look away.” to which I then thought of how much discomfort Polzine had to feel in order to make something like that. The film itself was mesmerizing, there was so much color and movement involved which made it very visually stimulating and thought-provoking.

My thoughts turned to the concept that there is no growth in the comfort zone. Sometimes we need to experience discomfort in order to learn and grow. Truthful Innards gave me just small insight into the feelings behind the work but it also gave me an extreme amount of appreciation for Polzine, Colie and the rest of the artists who put all of these emotions and personal experiences into their art. Their art serves a purpose and I believe it reiterates the fact that it can be used as a tool to spread awareness on important issues.


Bella Gonzalez, Arts and Media Leadership Associate, is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a passion of pursuing a career in Public Relations. Bella is minoring in leadership and her leadership qualities are evidenced by holding positions such as the PR/Marketing Director of Her Campus Minnesota, Entertainment Coordinator for the Edina Art Fair and Leadership Intern at Intermedia Arts. She is also growing her event planning experience through her internship at the 50th & France Business Association where she works to organize and develop events to strengthen the organization’s public image. One of Bella’s top values is positivity which she embodies in both professional and personal settings by constantly keeping a smile and good attitude. She enjoys spending her free time attending concerts and other live performances.

Up & Out: A Reflection

I joined the Youth Leadership Council last year, at the beginning of my junior year of high school. I had just come out to myself, not out to anyone except for a few friends, and out of this I joined the Up and Out team. Our first meeting, we had to state why we were there. It was terrifying for me, because during this meeting was the first time I had really had to come out to a bunch of (then) strangers. I remember the shaking feeling, the anxiety, even though all of the youth to my left and right were queer, and or trans. I hadn’t experienced a space where being queer was normal. And I listened to the people around me, and I learned from their unapologetic nature about their identities, and grew into my own. As the first Up and Out came in October of 2016, I had a new sense, a new perspective on my identity, and during the event I was so overcome with love and emotion for the community, though mostly I was full of hope.
We began planning Up & Out: Coming Home a few weeks later, and within the first couple of meetings, a terrifying and unqualified man was elected to office. We had this hope, this safety, this community, and now we worried not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for every other group of marginalized individuals and the impact that this man would have on their lives. I remember meetings after the election brought a different feeling, one less full of hope, one more confused and scared for what was to come. To say the least, YLC’s hearts were broken.
Then we planned the event. We gave the festival a name. We built our home back up again from the ruins that the political climate of today had created for us. We looked at each other and found a way to make Up and Out a coming home. A safer space, a place where we could empower each other and learn from each other in the intersections of our queer and trans identities. I saw a glimmer of hope that had been completely lost from me for the past few months, where I sat up late crying until I became dehydrated and falling into a restless sleep.
As Coming Home comes closer, for me, it means a few different things. For one, I’m excited, I’m ready to listen, learn, make and be in a safer space. I’m ready to be back in the magic of Up and Out that touched my heart and shaped how I view myself and my identity. For another, I realize that the fight for justice for people does not start and end with this festival, and I worry for the future. We have to turn that worry into action, and through planning this event two years in a row, that is a valuable lesson I have learned.
– Lillie Walstrom (they/them/theirs)

In addition to helping in the end stages of Up and Out this year, I was also on the Up and Out team my first year of being on the Youth Leadership Council. Up and Out is such a powerful space because it provides a creative alternative for young queer and trans folks to the more adult lgbtq scene in the twin cities that often centers around bars and pride which are not always the most welcoming spaces for youth. This year especially, but also last year, I think we really provided room for any and all art forms, from fashion design to performance art which is another super important aspect ofUp and Out. By giving young queer and/or trans people the opportunity to display their art in a gallery, to produce art and to exist in a community of artists, I believe Intermedia is truly helping the queer and trans community for years to come. This space gave me confidence and comfort in my identity and art, and I hope it gave that to any and all of the queer and trans youth who shared it with us.

– Sarah Maude-Griffin

Pre-opening Blogpost for In Flux

Looking through so many wonderful pieces of art created by such a wide range of individuals is truly such a gift. My name is Abby Kopp-Reddy and I’m a member of the Youth Leadership Council here at Intermedia Arts. I’ve been given the opportunity to be on the Youth Art Exhibit team of the council, and I couldn’t be happier. The art I mentioned earlier, are the pieces submitted from youth all around the country to our exhibit this year; In Flux: Create, Resist, Heal​. My team and I, comprised of four other fantastic human beings, have been working on In Flux​ for the last couple months. We’ve put our collective thoughts and skills together to assemble, curate and install an entire art exhibit made entirely for the youth, by the youth. It’s so gratifying being able collaborate with such amazing young individuals to create something that’s completely unique to our thought process and creativity. As the opening date of In Flux approaches, watching everything we’ve worked so hard to put together pan out, is truly reward. I’m beyond excited for In Flux ​to open up to the public and for people to experience a truly unique, once in a lifetime exhibit.

UNDERBELLY | A Reflection

This Spring’s Underbelly performance,  a space to nurture ideas, innovation, and artistic collaboration, focused on exploring story, hip hop, satire, politics, and history, and featured performances by Emily Zimmer, TruthMaze, and Vie Boheme.


Sorry. by Emily Zimmer

I admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from Emily Zimmer’s performance. Hiding inside a tiny cottage wearing a dress with balloons? At first, I thought her piece was meant to be comedic, but then I started to pick up on the satire … and let me tell you, I love satire! Although it was hard for me to keep up, as the show had a quick pace, it also allowed me to simply fully immerse myself into the story and songs of the candy witch Emily Zimmer was portraying. Afterwards, I was able to think about and appreciate the satire of modern society she had woven in her darkly whimsical and colorful act. And I must say, popping balloons was a delightful interactive experience!

Photo by Uche Iroegbu

Contraction – Expansion by Truthmaze

“Story meets song meets truth.” TruthMaze takes the interaction a step further, where he allowed the audience to ask him questions about his performance, which he answered in a free-style rap. I could feel the energy and emotion that he and his accompanying singers and musicians brought to their piece, and it was infectious. I found myself connecting with these musicians, especially when they sang about being connected to a higher, cosmic universe, which as someone who (probably) has an unhealthy love for space and the universe, really rang true with my soul. TruthMaze’s piece felt real to me. Story meets song meets truth. That describes the performance perfectly.

Photo by Uche Iroegbu

Viva:BLACK (Volume 1.) by Vie Boheme

Vie Boheme’s singing, her dancing, her recitation of poetry … it was filled with such emotion. She candidly presented small vignettes that were historically charged and reflective of today’s socio-political landscape. Even though I personally don’t share Vie Boheme’s lived experience, her history, or her perspective, her piece allowed me to connect with her. I felt my heart swell and fall with each vignette. When my brain started scrambling to find meaning, I had to remind myself to simply stop. And listen.

Photo by Uche Iroegbu


That was my biggest takeaway from UNDERBELLY. To just stop and listen. Don’t think, but feel. As someone who’s first instinct is to think and analyze, I learned a lot about myself that night.

One other takeaway: the next time Underbelly comes around, I’m definitely seeing it again. 🙂

Caitlin Albright, Arts and Media Leadership Associate, is a senior at the University of Minnesota and a Leadership Intern at Intermedia Arts. Although she grew up in a small town sandwiched between Blaine and Lino Lakes, Caitlin attended a Spanish immersion elementary school in Forest Lake, and followed the program up to her sophomore year of high school. She attended Anoka Ramsey Community College as a PSEO student for both her junior and senior years of high school, and then went off to the University of Minnesota to pursue a Bachelor’s of Individualized Studies in Astrophysics, Earth Sciences, and Leadership. Although she is looking at a career in the STEM field, Caitlin is an amateur artist who dabbles in both digital and traditional media, enjoys writing and reading, and has an appreciation for the arts.

The Power of Words

The Queer Voices reading on March 28th was the first time I’ve gone to any sort of literary reading, and I didn’t have words to describe how excited I was. Luckily for me, the artists had plenty of words to share.

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John Medeiros started off the reading. John has been co-curating the Queer Voices reading series for over ten years. John’s love for this event was evident as he read. John’s poems had an intimate feeling; he seemed at ease on the stage and brilliantly set the stage for the rest of the artists.

Lisa Marie Brimmer’s inspiration for her poem selection was “love.” Lisa said “Love may be an antidote for all of the things we have been feeling lately.” Her powerful tone was soothing. Her words enveloped the crowd. What I found extremely fascinating when Lisa read was that, despite all of her poem choices being centered around love, they weren’t what one typically thinks of when the word ‘loves’ comes to mind. The fact that the word love can hold many different forms, was showcased so eloquently during Lisa’s reading.

When Anthony Ceballos read, his hands wove elegant gestures that harmonized beautifully with his soothing voice. One of my favorite poems by Anthony was a new piece that started out as a Facebook post. One part that stuck out to me was; “I write to keep myself alive. To keep myself from drowning. To keep the skeletons in my closet aside.” This was strikingly beautiful and relatable on a deeper level than I anticipated. We all have our ways of escape when we need a break from the world and it was beautiful to get a little glimpse into Anthony’s.

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Co-curator Andrea Jenkins came up next to read and introduce the last set of artists. Andrea’s passion for this reading series and the readers present was evident. Andrea read a poem about ‘10 things to do for inauguration day 2017.’ Andrea gave advice such as ‘don’t watch the news, call your loved ones and tell them you love them and resist.’ Andrea read with a graceful authority and was a commanding presence on the stage.

Catherine Lundoff, who works in IT by day but writes by night, told us that she is also opening her own printing called Queen of Swords Press. I found it so inspiring that Catherine was essentially working two jobs to do what she loves. It gave me hope to follow my own dreams. I also found Catherine’s reading so entertaining. Catherine had so much fun on stage and I didn’t want her to stop reading. Her voice was animated and the voices she used helped distinguish between the characters she was reading about.

Sofia Yarberry took the stage last. Starting with shorter poems and ending with a play on a sonnet,  Sofia’s tone was slow calm. Some of Sofia’s poems dealt with college experiences and, as I am a college student right now, I found the parallels between what Sofia felt and what I have experienced to be very powerful. It was very cool to hear someone else’s experiences and get an insight into their lives. Sofia’s last poem was a sort of sonnet. One of Sofia’s professors said that ‘this was a sonnet but not quite a sonnet.’ John said that this was a great metaphor for the queer community.


At the end of the Queer Voices event was the question and answer portion. At the beginning of the event, John had said that the success of the Queer Voices reading series happens because of the interactions between the audience and the artists. The readings themselves were so powerful, but to hear how these artists’ words impacted people in the audience was incredible. The power of words.

They say that a picture can say a thousand words but during this reading, I felt that there was no picture that could do the words that were coming out of these artists mouths justice. Their words took me on a journey that I wasn’t expecting to go on. I felt inspired and enlightened as I left. I plan to go to many more readings in the future and if you are reading this, you should too.


Faith Hansen, Arts and Media Leadership Associate, is a Junior at the University of Minnesota and is studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Leadership. Faith grew up in a very small town in southern Minnesota. She was named after country star ‘Faith Hill’. However, despite getting the name, she failed to inherit Faith Hill’s beautiful singing voice. When she was younger, she wrote scripts and persuaded her friends to star in short films she made. Her dream back then was to be on Broadway and she acted in several school plays. She quickly realized that her strengths are more along the lines of producing material rather than acting. Now, she would like to work on a creative team for an advertising agency and produce advertisements for television shows and movies. This semester, Faith is working as intern for Intermedia Arts.

A Behind the Scenes Look at Open Stages

By Bella Gonzalez

Monday night’s Open Stages was high energy and thought provoking. Open Stages is a bi-monthly event that offers young people a way to express their talents in song, dance, spoken word, and more. This event is planned and run by Intermedia Arts’ Youth Leadership Council. The YLC consists of about ten members ages ranging from 12-19 who put on a number of events at Intermedia Arts like the Live Music Fest. I attended one of their meetings before the event, where members created their own meeting agenda, established roles for the evening and discussed other small details about how the event would play out. The YLC’s collaboration and flexibility were evidenced throughout the whole event. When assigning roles for the evening, most of the members stuck to their strengths but were more than willing to take on multiple roles, or roles that they might not have done before.


The YLC encourages participants to sign up ahead of time in order to create a general schedule for the show, but allow walk-ins the night of. About ten performers shared their spoken word, songs, and dance styles. After their performance, each participant received feedback from the crowd which gave the whole show a new sense of community. Everyone was there to enjoy each other’s presence and help one another improve.


One aspect unique to Open Stages is the live paint board. Just as it sounds, the live paint board is a board  put on stage for guests to add to during the performances. Seeing all the expression on the board was thought-provoking and definitely added to the atmosphere of the show.


The Youth Leadership Council members were so welcoming to me in more ways than one. They all introduced themselves to me and even included my name on their agenda when deciding roles for the evening. Throughout the night they were always there to answer any questions or even just to talk and joke around. I think small things like that really show their leadership strengths. I never once felt out of place throughout the event and I credit that to the YLC.
From attending both the Live Music Fest in February and Open Stages on Monday, it is easy to see all the great work that the YLC does for Intermedia Arts. They contribute fresh perspectives to the space and are skillful in planning and executing many successful events. They are inclusive and strive to make sure that every guest feels welcome. The YLC should be proud of all the work they do for Intermedia Arts because it truly makes a difference.

Bella Gonzalez, Arts and Media Leadership Associate, is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a passion of pursuing a career in Public Relations. Bella is minoring in leadership and her leadership qualities are evidenced by holding positions such as the PR/Marketing Director of Her Campus Minnesota, Entertainment Coordinator for the Edina Art Fair and Leadership Intern at Intermedia Arts. She is also growing her event planning experience through her internship at the 50th & France Business Association where she works to organize and develop events to strengthen the organization’s public image. One of Bella’s top values is positivity which she embodies in both professional and personal settings by constantly keeping a smile and good attitude. She enjoys spending her free time attending concerts and other live performances.