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Colson Whitehead, Macalester's Marlon James finalists for fiction award

Marlon James, in his Minneapolis apartment in 2017. Renee Jones Schneider

Marlon James, a writer-in-residence and associate professor of English at Macalester College, has landed on the long list for the National Book Award. The novelist, who splits his time between Minneapolis and Brooklyn, was honored for "Black Leopard, Red Wolf," the first in a planned trilogy. (This year, the NBA is rolling out its categories day by day. Thursday, Minnesota writer David Treuer appeared on the nonfiction long list for "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee.")

Finalists for the awards will be announced Oct. 3 and winners will get their medals in November.

The other nine on the fiction long list include "The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead, a previous winner for "The Underground Railroad," and eight first-timers: Taffy Brodesser-Akner for "Fleishman Is in Trouble," Susan Choi for "Trust Exercise," Kali Fajardo-Anstine for "Sabrina & Corina: Stories," Laila Lalami for "The Other Americans," Kimberly King Parsons for "Black Light: Stories," Helen Phillips for "The Need," Julia Phillips for "Disappearing Earth" and Ocean Vuong for "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous."

Artist Angela Two Stars selected for Walker Art Center's Indigenous Public Art Commission

Above: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Photo by Shari L. Gross • Below: Artist Angela Two Stars. Photo credit: Eric Papenfuss.

Come fall 2020, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be home to a new indigenous public art commission by artist Angela Two Stars, an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. The sculptural artwork will make connections between land, water and language. The location of the piece has yet to be chosen.

“I am thrilled with the selection of Angela Two Stars as our next commission for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden,” said Walker Art Center executive director Mary Ceruti. “I know visitors to the garden will find it welcoming and generous.”

The St. Paul-based Two Stars also is the director of All My Relations Arts, a Minneapolis gallery committed to producing shows by contemporary American Indian artists. She was chosen from 50 national and international submissions.

"My piece is inspired by my grandfather and his legacy of work in language revitalization, so it is truly an honor to be able to create work that honors those working in language programs," said Two Stars, when reached via email. "I am grateful to be able to create work that honors the land and water of Mni Sota as well as my ancestors and future generations of Dakota people."

The decision was made between the Indigenous Public Art Selection Committee and then Walker Art Center’s curatorial staff. The Indigenous Public Art Committee, which is made up of seven Native artists, curators, writers and knowledgeable persons in Minnesota, South Dakota and New Mexico, was formed in early 2018, less than a year after the takedown and destruction of L.A.-based Sam Durant’s sculpture “Scaffold.” It was a gallows-like public artwork that included the design of the scaffold where 38 Dakota men were hanged. Minnesota is historically Dakota land, and the hangings took place in nearby Mankato. “Scaffold” caused trauma for the Native communities and relatives of the 38 Dakota men who were executed.

"I have appreciated working with the Walker Art Center, most notably, the fact that they implemented the Indigenous Public Art Committee that informed the call for art that I responded to," said Two Stars. "It encouraged me knowing that my work would be received in a respectful manner by a panel of my Indigenous peers."

Although this is Two Stars’ first public commission for the Walker, she is no stranger to public artworks. In 2017, she collaborated with artists Sandy Spieler and Mona Smith to stamp outlines of deer, eagles, turtle, wild rice, sage and more with their Dakota names onto sidewalks along the south side of Lake Bde Maka Ska. This past spring at All My Relations Arts, she curated the exhibition “Bring Her Home: Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island” about the ongoing epidemic of missing or murdered Native women.

Born and raised on the Sisseton Wahpeton Lake Traverse Reservation in northeast South Dakota, Two Stars left at age 21 with her mom, to go with her to a new job in Michigan. She received her bachelor of fine art’s degree from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2017. This will be Two Stars’ first work to enter the museum’s collection.