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Think Global, Act Local: How To Be An Advocate For Local Art

Photos by Hillary Ehlen


Art has a special place in my life because it is a universal language. As a matter of fact, the second language of the Fargo-Moorhead area should be ART. Some of you might wonder, wait, what do you mean? Art as a second language? Well, when people come to Fargo they should think the city speaks both English and Art, but how would that be possible?

In order to elaborate on why ART is “the diamond in the clay” of the Red River that has not been fully tapped yet, I would like my older brother from another Rwandan Mother to share some of his first-hand experience as an artist living in the FM area for more than 10 years.

Pasteur Mundede

He is the producer and the curator of these visual experiences that can heal us and stimulate our imagination or even be a mental gateway allowing us to escape our mundane routine thanks to his magic and vibrant brush stroke…

The Fargo-Moorhead area has become a haven for culture for a couple of years. The community is filled with creativity, energy and a life force that quickly seduces one to jump into action. This is an ever-growing city, bustling with artists energized by research, entrepreneurs revolutionizing the ways for commerce, visionaries and leaders who are insatiably engaged and curious in finding ways to contribute to the livability of their community. Coffee shops are full of life in the mornings, the streets are moving fast and restaurant kitchens are busy during both lunch and dinner.

There is an ambiance of vitality in the Fargo Moorhead area, and a creative energy that has translated into successful business ventures and community programs. The connection between the arts and the growth of a community is inextricable. The world is full of seemingly magical stories that demonstrate the crucial role of an artist in the advancement of a community. Though the relationship between artists and their community has lasted for centuries, somehow the benefits are flowing one way.

The paradox is that the more artists contributing to a community, the more rents rise and the more difficult it becomes for local artists to afford to stay and make a living in a city they love. Communities need to reimagine ways they can collaborate with artists; the idea of artists volunteering their skills for exposure instead of compensation has impeded the growth of these creative individuals. The good news is that almost every community already has untapped or underdeveloped resources that can be used to support and boost the influence of our local artists.

Financial Support

The FM Area art scene is kept alive by talented local artists and the community members who purchase their art. Art comes in all shapes and forms. Sculpture, prints, music, drama, photography and painting. Every piece of art, large or small, takes a tremendous amount of time, love and thought. Next time you peruse the beautiful artwork of FM artists, purchase a little something for your home, office or cubicle. Pick up a unique ceramic, a handcrafted leather notebook or jewelry. Better yet, you can commission a painting or a table. There is not a more effective way to support local art than financial support, whether it be buying from the artist, gallery or in the form of charitable contribution.

Be Present In Local Art Scene

Throughout the year, there are countless numbers of art-based events. Art walks, pop-ups, exhibitions, galas and opening night receptions. Art lovers can demonstrate their support of the local arts community by regularly attending such special events. In a creative community like this, special events like these occur year-round. Of course, being present in the local art scene is not restricted to galleries and museums. Coffee shops, breweries and other establishments play a big role in hosting local musicians.

Being an advocate for the arts while making art purchases and attending local events are absolutely necessary and indispensable. However, not everyone has the budget and time to do so. Fortunately, the effort to strengthen the local art does not need to come at a price. It is easier to promote local artists, museums, galleries and organizations that support art via social media platforms. Tools like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be used to share and promote artworks, news and events.

Pasteur Mudende

Written by Pasteur Mudende

Pasteur is a Teaching Artist at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo. A native of Rwanda, he is an artist, writer, community leader and a comprehensive thinker. Pasteur is constantly thinking about how we can experience the world around us. He is a visionary, thinker in action and a doer of all, and he is always a team player. Along with Alex Cyusa, Pasteur will be writing the Think Global, Act Local column every other month.

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