Minneapolis, November 7, 2014 — With a fresh look and full, pixel to page redesign, Mn Artists offers a full complement of new tools, resources, editorial content and programming, online and off, to inform, promote, and connect Midwestern art and artists, cultural organizations and audiences well into the future.
Mn Artists Program Director, Jehra Patrick, comments on the redesign of MN Artists: “We’re very aware of the ways that artists work and how artistic practices have evolved and diversified; we co-mingle, have slash-titles, and cross-train. We also know that artists have access to a broad array of online tools where they have multiple presences and identities. We want to see what happens when we all come back together. We want to co-create value with Midwestern artists and make what we’re doing visible through this platform.”
This trailblazing regional arts platform was launched in 2001 as joint project of the McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Center—a first-of-its-kind digital gathering place for artists. Vickie Benson, arts program director for The McKnight Foundation, comments, “We want to congratulate Mn Artists on the completion of this large project, and we look forward to its reception by artists and its impact on our artistic community. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive.”
Improved features of the redesign:
• An easily searchable database of art and artists, arts organizations, articles, events and opportunities.
• Original arts writing and criticism with expanded scope, putting regional and nationally-focused writers, stories, and artists side by side.
• The website is organized by way of content filters which mirror real artistic communities, activities, and interests and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration
• Artists have access to free professional development and presentation tools, like portfolio and resume builders
• Artists can connect their Mn Artists portfolios with their other social media platforms, audio, video and photo sharing sites to integrate their various web presences with ease
• New social features in the website allow users to filter content based on individual artistic interests and to “follow” other artists and writers for a customized “news feed” with the work, news, and happenings most relevant to them.
• Mn Artists boasts the region’s only user-submitted, multi-disciplinary arts calendar
Conversations around art are what set Mn Artists apart from similar databases, and the site’s redesign puts high-level criticism and cultural journalism front and center. Editor-in-Chief, Susannah Schouweiler, sees strong writing as a vital way to put local artists and writers in dialogue with issues and work beyond the state’s borders. “For the last couple of years, I’ve shifted the emphasis in the overall editorial part of the site away from ephemeral, hyper-local and event-specific coverage,” she says. “I’ve encouraged our writers to take a wider angle on the work being made here, to look up and out, and to frame their criticism with ideas and trends percolating outside the region.”
Mn Artists preceded social media sites like MySpace and Facebook as a place for artists to gather online and has long provided artists with a free web presence—before open-source blogging and website building tools like WordPress were even conceived. Mn Artists has been an important for arts writing and journalism in the Midwest, commissioning well over 1000 articles on the local cultural scene since its inception more than a decade ago. It’s been a living archive of artistic activity in the state for 13 years and counting.
All the while, Mn Artists has remained a uniquely collaborative creation: a continually evolving product of institutional stewardship and community-driven design.
The redesign project was headed by Patrick: the website’s visual design was produced by the Walker Art Center’s Design and New Media departments, and the platform’s infrastructure was developed in Drupal by the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s IMA Labs. The rebuild project was made possible through the Walker Art Center’s receipt of a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This National Leadership grant recognizes mnartists.org as an innovative model for engaging communities through technology. With this in mind, the project was conceived around open source toolsets, with the idea that the new platform and its component parts might be adapted and replicated nationally, within other communities.
Mn Artists remains, first and foremost, an open platform by which area artists may showcase their work and achievement, and connect to audiences, patrons and each other. Armed with a newly redesigned website and a variety of artist-friendly online tools, expanded editorial offerings and offline programming mnartists.org is poised to bring the artists, critical coverage, and events that distinguish the Midwestern cultural scene to a wider audience for years to come. Look for some of those conversations to migrate offline soon, too: Mn Artists will announce a full suite of live programs this winter.
About Mn Artists
Mn Artists is home to art, writing, opportunities and conversation, online and off, by, for and about Midwestern artists working in every discipline. Based out of the Walker Art Center, Mn Artists is dedicated to improving the quality and national visibility of regionally-rooted art, artists and cultural dialogue through a dynamic online community, responsive arts journalism, and by giving artists access to, and connections with, collaborators, influencers and the public. Mn Artists is made possible by generous support by the McKnight Foundation.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.
About IMA Labs
The IMA Lab is a multi-disciplinary, award-winning web design and development consultancy that serves the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s mission and the greater cultural sector.
Our team represents a wide range of technical expertise and backgrounds, including digital strategy, information architecture, branding, web design & development, custom software development, mobile & iPhone applications, and deployment/systems integration. The IMA Lab is dedicated to the creation of open-source software and aims, through our work, to continually benefit the entire cultural technology community.
Mn Artists is a project of The McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Center.