Art by Pakou and Ian Hang
Who doesn’t love a piece of mail from a friend?
The pandemic has isolated us. To cope, we are reaching out with our phones and computers, and as a result we are fatigued and overdoing our screen time. Mail art is a way that we can connect physically.
1200 East Side residents will receive one of ten postcards, illustrated by ten BIPOC artists with strong ties to East Side, St. Paul.
Northern Spark 2021 theme is “alchemy.” Alchemy is the combination of this postcard art with your art and message. Combine the postcard with the seemingly magic reliability of the postal service, and you create a precious gem, connecting friends through the pandemic. Like magic.
If you get a postcard send it to a friend! Connect! Then tag us on Instagram #northernspark #postcardfriends @northernlights.mn @supporlocalhustle.
This project is bilingual Hmong/English.
L. Kling enjoys bringing BIPOC artists together for creative community art projects in the form of zines, visual art, and events. They create with love and magic, on occupied Dakota and Anishinaabe land. Find them in the library, next to the copy machine, or walking around the neighborhood petting cats.
Marina Castillo, Instagram @marinacastilloart
“Many East Siders are immigrants, hence why I decided to create a monarch Butterfly that migrates for survival. Within the butterfly I chose to use symbols of water to represent the Mississippi River that runs along St Paul and Minneapolis. I am also using Peace and Heart signs to represent what we are currently experiencing with the George Floyd trials and as a nation. The Agave and Aztec symbols represent the thriving indigenous cultures on the east side. The butterfly also represents hope. Love, Peace, and Hope is the theme of this art piece.”
Tong Chang, “A Magical Walk at Lake Phalen.” Instagram @tongart20
“A wise wizard walking around the magical Lake Phalen. Rumors say that if you’re lucky you will see a sea dragon in the lake.”
CRICE, Instagram @cricekahlil, criceinternational.com
“My pieces’ theme will relate to the process of self realization and transformation as well as manifestation which is at the core of Alchemic theory. It will depict a character transmuting their essence from lead to gold and feature healing symbols and imagery.”
Kathi Ha (she/hers), Instagram @i.d.kathi, linktr.ee/i.d.kathi
“Two hands holding each other, and they’re growing/transforming into MN native wildflowers at different budding stages. To illustrate how wonderful things can grow out of connection and collaboration, and also a nod to spring.”
Pakou Hang and Ian Hang (age 9 years old), “Grow With Love.”
Pakou Hang grew up on the East Side of Saint Paul. She currently works for a nonprofit that trains intersectional, reform minded, anti-racist women to run for public office and win. Her nephew, Ian Hang, is the artist in the family. He is currently in the third grade at St. Paul Academy and Summit School where he likes to draw and write stories about ninjas with superpowers. Ian was inspired to start drawing and painting by his older brother, Mason. Both Pakou and Ian are dragons in the Chinese zodiac.
“Wang Ger Hang and Phoua Thao Hang are the patriarch and the matriarch of our family. For the past 30 years, they have been growing mixed vegetables on small parcels of farmland and selling the fresh produce at the local farmers markets. This art piece is entitled ‘Grow With Love,’ and it’s our tribute to them. It depicts Wang Ger and Phoua transforming soil, water, and small seeds into abundant food they use to feed our family and share with the community. Through farming, Wang Ger and Phoua turned their love for their children and grandchildren into the American Dream. This magical conversion of both organic materials and familial love is the ‘alchemy’ we wish to celebrate.”
hc lou, “Best Friends.” Instagram @hclou, hclouart.com
hclou is an angry gemini earth dragon, multiracial, asian, queer, cisgender, disabled, survivor/surviving, anxious, and depressed womxn of color artist and educator based in st. paul, minnesota, which is the hxstorical occupied land of the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples.
Kuki, Instagram @kukikore
“Alchemy uses different materials to create and transform something into something, just as saint paul has residence of different people and cultures (Hmong, Karen, Somali, etc) come together and make up this diverse city where in you have exposure to a different culture just by turning the street corner. My plan is to draw a sun (symbolizing perfection) and have it surrounded by women of different ethnicities.”
Abby Sunde (she/her), “Alchemy of the Heart.” Instagram @abby_sunde
Abby Sunde is a visual artist who lives in the Twin Cities area. She was born and raised in North Central Wisconsin and is a first-generation descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Abby draws inspiration from her own exploration of life’s questions, nature, and the world around her.
“My illustration concept includes an anatomical heart in the center of the postcard, encircled by hands holding on to each other, symbolizing the community that holds our hearts. In the background are alchemy symbols, tying in the transformation that we are all going through and the magical connection we all have with each other, despite the isolation we are going through right now.”
Thomasina Topbear, Instagram @tomierae
Thomasina Topbear is a self taught Santee Dakota & Oglala Lakota muralist, she has been a member of the international all female crew Few & Far Women since 2015. Thomasina helped found City Mischief Murals, a mural collective that actively paints large scale community based murals in the Twin Cities. She has helped organize a number of local and national community based mural events focusing on youth, women, activism & BIPOC artists. Thomasina’s inspirations come from her Indigenous culture and graffiti background, she uses these influences to express her feelings on community, social justice, culture, feminism and togetherness.
“Thomasina illustrated a femme Native Fancy Shawl dancer in regalia flowing above tree branches with butterflies in different stages of their life cycles, this process almost seems magical in nature. The Fancy Shawl dance represents the opening of a cocoon when the butterfly emerges representing transformation, symbolizing the beauty in nature’s alchemy.”
D. Wing (she/her/hers), wingart.wixsite.com/wingart
Since a young age, influenced by Sunday newspaper comic strips and art museum visits, I had a strong desire to explore the world around me; and to also express and share what I have observed and felt within me back to the world. Curious and open to learning new ways of seeing and self-expression, I enjoy experimenting with images and words which I have embarked upon since my days as a Studio Arts major at Wellesley College. I enjoy using a variety of media (photography, collage, painting, comics, etc.) that allow me to articulate my meditations on social issues and personal experiences from the past and present.
“To me, Lake Phalen is a magical place where I have found much solace and peace, especially during COVID-19 and the rising hate crimes against members of the AAPI community. I have intentionally made visits there for walks/bird watching with another AAPI friend to feel safe among the diversity of the Eastside community, and am so grateful such a place exists where people of all backgrounds can enjoy nature and the outdoors. At that park, there is the Changsha China Friendship Garden with a wall engraving featuring a pair of phoenixes. Across many cultures, the phoenix is a mythical/magical creature who embodies many powers including resurrection, self-renewal, transformation, peace and prosperity. I envision my illustration to depict the phoenix rising out of Lake Phalen – and spreading vibrations of peace and love with its wings.”