Log in

Jean: The Inspiration Behind the Birkenstein Arts Movement 


Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 18, 5 - 8 PM

On View: September 17 - December 3, 2019

George Morrison Gallery

Jean – as she was called by all who knew her, including her children – was an artist, a teacher and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in 1950’s and 1960’s Chicago. Her home served as a safe house and community center for rival gangs, where members were free to express themselves through art, drawing and painting in the Birkenstein household. Her own work emphasizes her belief that everything – human, animal or mineral – has its inherent dignity. Painting, drawing and printing on whatever materials were available to her, newspapers, mailers and reworked canvases, Jean created images of her everyday life: their family pet ocelot, interracial couples, and gang members. Her media in the upcoming exhibit include oil, watercolors, lithographs, mixed media and prints. Her subject matter represents her eclectic interests, ranging from views of the Chicago El to cats eyeing fish on a table to colliding galaxies. Her work reflects both her insatiable need to share knowledge as well as her own lifelong thirst for learning.

Along with her artwork, the tactics employed by Jean and her movement colleagues are part of a year-long DAI program for middle school students, the Birkenstein Arts Movement. Its goal is to communicate and teach, as Jean dedicated her life to doing, that positive social change can be achieved by anyone at any age, manifested through knowledge and expressed through art.

Interesting in more information? Listen to an interview with the artist's son here.

Image Credit: Jean Birkenstein, Lord & Corba, 1961

Minnesota Black Fine Art Show 


Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 18, 5 - 8pm

Artist Talk 5:30pm

On View: September 17, 2019 - January 2, 2020

John Steffl Gallery

Established and emerging Minnesota artists of African descent exhibit their work in this juried traveling show. Appearing at Austin Area Arts, Mankato’s Emy Frentz Arts Gallery, St. Cloud’s Paramount Center of the Arts, and Obsidian Arts in Minneapolis, The Minnesota Black Fine Art Show culminates at The Duluth Art Institute. Work on view includes fiber, mixed media, photography, graphic design and painting. Congratulations to selected artists:

Kprecia Ambers, Minneapolis; kpinspires.com
Eyenga Bokamba, Minneapolis; eyengabokambapaintings.com
Christopher E. Harrison, Twin Cities; harrisonartstudio.net
Carla Hamilton, Duluth
Bill Jeter, Minneapolis; homewoodstudios.com/artists/jeter.html
Antwon Key, Mankato; antwonkey.com
Terresa Moses, Duluth; terresahardaway.com
Theoneste Munyemana, Minneapolis
Ivy Vainio, Duluth
Carl Wesley, Minneapolis

Image Credit: Ivy Vaino, Breaking Free I, digital photograph, 2018

Shannon Cousino: Rituals


On View: October 22 - December, 2019

Corridor Gallery

Shannon Cousino’s work resonates with intensity, evoking raw emotions of hope and longing. This series taps into her personal journey seeking strength and celebration following the haunting and burning called up from loss. The work captures movement and fluidity while mirroring the perceived staticity one feels in the depths of grief. The large-scale wood cut prints evolved from photography and layer text and stylized renderings of the heart over self-portraits. The foreshortened figure of What Doesn’t Kill You fills the page, filigree design drops behind the figure symbolizing the carved façade of one in grief. And according to Cousino, echoes the noise that surrounds grieving. Filigree flanks the figure in The New Normal and both images are accented with gold, smooth and reflective; inspired by Medieval illuminated manuscripts documenting stories of life and death. Cousino reflects on her current work, “This series focuses on themes of personal transformation through tragedy and the verbal clichés that are often said during attempts to comfort.”

Cousino, Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – Superior and Adjunct Instructor at the College of St. Scholastica, has exhibited locally, regionally and internationally. Her work has been collected by the Tweed Museum of Art and was awarded the 52nd Arrowhead Biennial Best of Show.

Claudia Faith


October, November, December
City Hall: Mayor's Reception Room

Claudia Faith’s richly colored anthropomorphic paintings focus on a magnified perspective of the familiar.  Painting intimate portraits of her neighboring sheep, cows and chickens, Faith invites viewers to visit with her friends at close range. Looking intimately at her work, one can gain insight into Faith’s methods and relationships to the materials as well as her subjects.

Growing up on the Iron Range in the 1950’s, Faith notes that her paintings reflect a bittersweet childhood. Her work resonates with emotion; she finds serenity and sympathy in the bulkiness of a resting cow, the ugliness of a sheared ewe, in the eyes of a caged animal. She began painting full time in 2004, after retiring from the business world and pulling a sense of composition, balance and perseverance from her training as a professional musician and composer. Currently, her work focuses on calling attention to peace and world sustainability.

Image Credit: Claudia Faith, Homies

Our Neighbors: Choice, unlimited


On View: October - December, 2019

City Hall Rotunda

CHOICE, unlimited serves adults with developmental disabilities, opening doors to employment and opportunity to people in our community. Their programming includes a studio class in visual arts and we are excited to showcase a selection of their work in our ongoing partnership with the City of Duluth.  Participants experiment with a variety of mediums and styles to explore their talents and develop individual expression. Techniques like soft pastel, collage and watercolor reveal studies in organic shapes, typography, and color composition. The weekly classes empower artist to make informed choices in their creative work by bringing awareness to personal values, identifying emotions and generating symbolism.

We invite you to connect with one another, allowing art to be the medium of a shared experience with those that share our community.



  The Duluth Art Institute's programs and services are made possible in part through the support of the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2018.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software