The Little Mermaid sculpture is perhaps one of the most prominent tourist attractions of Copenhagen. Cities with a symbol that people can relate to, are better able to communicate their story and relevance. The story goes that a Danish brewer, Carl Jacobsen, went to see Hans Beck and Fini Henrique’s ballet “The Little Mermaid” (based on Christian Andersen’s tale) where he wanted to celebrate the ballerina Ellen Price performance of her role as the Little Mermaid. He commissioned sculptor Edvard Eriksen to design the Little Mermaid in 1913, which now stands in the harbor, by the Kastellet. According to Denmark.net, it was “a part of the city’s initiative to decorate parks and public areas with classical and historic figures.” The statue’s infinitely longing gaze resonates with visitors and has garnered love and attention, evident today through the many selfies taken with the statue.

Little Mermaid Sculpture

Copenhagen,

This wooden bird toy/decoration is made by ArchitectMade and is a timeless classic Danish design by Kristian Vedel. It is made of high quality oak. What is intriguing is that its head can turn to reflect different moods: happy, sad or curious. At the same time, the body can turn to present a boy or a girl. The flexibility and adaptability of this design speaks to the Danish’s value of caring which is embedded in Danish early childhood education. Caring values target and support the child’s needs, making children sensitive to how their own and others’ everyday lives intersect with well-being. The poster shows how the city prides itself of a legacy where a policeman stopped traffic so a mother duck and her ducklings can cross the street.

Cultivating Inclusivity

Copenhagen,

In the spring of 1999, a group of volunteers from the Bemidji Community Arts Center (now Watermark Art Center) curated the first Bemidji Sculpture Walk. The walk is located in downtown Bemidji to draw more foot traffic to downtown businesses. “We…have a group of folks that just are avid artists and they have, for many years, done the sculpture walk,” raves Mayor Albrecht. “So every June they switch out the sculptures and we have a great sculpture walk in our downtown and that brings people downtown.” Art can be a medium for community development (Lowe, 2000), and by adding new work each year, local and regional artists of all backgrounds have the opportunity to showcase their unique voice. The Sculpture Walk reflects Bemidji’s diversity as well as the city’s natural beauty, helping to build a greater sense of community.

Sculpture Walk

Bemidji, Minnesota


Photo credit: Glabrielle Clowdus

Pangea World Theater illuminates the human condition, celebrates cultural differences, and promotes human rights by creating and presenting international, multi-disciplinary theater. Through innovative performances, Pangea starts conversations around difficult and often challenging topics, such as race, gender, ethnicity, human rights, politics, and social justice.

Pangea World Theater

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Photo credit: No Expiration Date: Aging and Sexuality, June 2015, directed by Dipankar Mukherjee and written by Meena Natarajan. The actors are Tinne Rosenmeier, Fawn Wilderson, Beverly Cottman and Lonnie McLaughlin.

Intermedia Arts’ colorful exterior wall is a landmark on Minneapolis’ Lyndale Avenue. As a space that  brings together people of different backgrounds, the organization raises awareness and builds self-esteem by empowering youth to use “art-based approaches to solve community issues.”  Their Open Stages program, hosted by teen performers, gives youth the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of performing art, including planning, marketing, performance and tech. Art mediums include film and media, literary, performing and visual arts, and dance.

Intermedia Arts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In November of 1997, the Hopkins Center for the Arts opened and quickly became a central gathering place. Located in the heart of Mainstreet and between two community parks, the center’s mission is to “build community through the arts by fostering creative expression, and providing artistic and educational opportunities for people of all ages, as well as to be an important focal point for community activity, pride and involvement.” The Center hosts performances, exhibitions, adult community education classes, along with providing rentable space to businesses and families. The flexibility of the spaces supports a wide-range of events, making it attractive to the city’s diverse population. Events the center has held include: first birthday celebrations for Indian families, Quinceanera parties for Hispanic community members, and the Somali Museum of Minnesota’s 2nd anniversary party.

Hopkins Center for the Arts

Hopkins, Minnesota


Photo credit: https://www.hopkinsartscenter.com/

PlaceMakers is Rochester’s prototyping festival allowing residents to see the many different ways public space can be transformed. Prototyping is the practice of creating, testing, and trying an experimental model of a new idea or object. Rochester’s Downtown Alliance wanted to involve a range of people to develop creative solutions to physical spaces. In 2016, 16 prototypes were tested over one weekend. Creative Crosswalks by the team RNeighbors aimed to nurture citizen involvement for positive community change by helping bring art to barren spaces and by emphasizing safe crosswalk space for one of the most heavily used pedestrian areas in downtown Rochester. This exploration of new ideas and ways of seeing public space allows communities to innovate and flourish, better serving the people who live and work there.

PlaceMakers

Rochester, Minnesota


Photo credit: Rene Lafflam of RNeighbors