Pramila Vasudevan and Public Art Saint Paul are one of the five winners of the 2022 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and community organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.
“Prairie/Concrete is an embodied listening and movement project that will bring visibility to ideals of land belonging rather than land ownership, transforming our traditions and discovering alternative modes of being together. Through community gathering, gardening, and collective improvisation, we will explore how to unsettle our ways and actively teach ourselves about the possibilities of an urban ecology that is not rooted in competition or capital, but in nurturing and reciprocity.”
Prairie/Concrete imagines new pathways for communities to connect through a series of workshops and events across three Twin Cities public parks. Conceptualized and facilitated by transdisciplinary artist Pramila Vasudevan and presented by Public Art Saint Paul, the project will include improvised and choreographed movement-making, conversations, and ecological activities that bring together local artists, gardeners, and other community members, particularly those who identify as people of color, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and/or other underrepresented identities. Taking place on Dakota land, these activities will engage participants in pressing issues facing the city’s land and ecosystem. The project explores the relationship between movement-making and plant-growing processes to identify more generative and sustainable ways for people to connect with each other and with the earth amidst environmental crises and racial reckoning. Presented in Summer 2023 as part of the inaugural Twin Cities Triennial Art Festival, the project will take place across three sites in Saint Paul, in collaboration with the city parks department and the communities connected to each neighborhood.
Pramila Vasudevan (b. 1977) is a Twin-Cities-based transdisciplinary artist trained in classical and contemporary Indian dance, electronic media, and political science. In 2004, she founded Aniccha Arts, an experimental collaborative producing site-specific performances, where she is Artistic Director. She is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship (2022), Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography (2017), a McKnight Foundation Fellowship in Choreography (2016), a SAGE Award nomination for Outstanding Performance (2015), among other awards and grants. Vasudevan received a BA in political science at St. Olaf College and a BFA in interactive media from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
For 35 years, Public Art Saint Paul (PASP) has placed artists in leading roles to co-create an equitable, vibrant city where all people thrive. PASP recognizes the vital role of vibrant public spaces where public life can be inclusive and welcoming and the role of art and artists in creating those spaces. PASP does place-based work that is deeply relational and long-term, as it collaborates over time with strategic partners, ranging from the City of Saint Paul to other nonprofits and art organizations. Through daring leadership, PASP champions innovative public art practice, imagining and creating with artists, civic leaders, and its neighbors a 21st-century city that is just, sustainable, and beautiful. PASP practices “City Art”—art that is made within the life-sustaining systems of the City, embedded in nature. PASP’s work demonstrates the leadership roles that artists can play for communities and municipalities.
Image: Performance photo from Pramila Vasudevan’s 2018 Parking Ramp Project, presented by Aniccha Arts. Photo credit: Zoe Cinel.