Dyani White Hawk

This year, the MacArthur Foundation declared what Minnesota art fans have long known: Dyani White Hawk is a genius.

That's the label that will be forever affixed to the Sičáŋǧu Lakota artist since she and 19 others were awarded MacArthur fellowships, known as the "genius grant," in 2023.

And frankly, it fits. White Hawk's most striking, shimmering pieces, made with thousands of bugle beads, honor and elevate Lakota art forms. Their geometric designs, infused with symbolism, spotlight the influence Indigenous aesthetics have had on Western abstraction. They're beautiful, too.

This year, those works popped up in publications and art galleries nationwide. In February, W Magazine highlighted White Hawk, who has a Minneapolis studio and a Shakopee home, in a lengthy feature on Native artists "Doing It Their Way." In March, Elle declared: "Dyani White Hawk Is Rewriting Art History."

Then, in news that made the New York Times, the Whitney Museum of American Art picked White Hawk to create one of two new public artworks for its restaurant reboot. The resulting ceramic tile piece, "Nourish," spans more than 30 feet, her largest work to date.

In November, White Hawk opened her first exhibition in Los Angeles, titled "Reflection," still on view at Various Small Fires. It features nine new beautifully detailed paintings and a video installation with eight Indigenous women speaking their languages. ARTnews included her works at Frieze Los Angeles, a precursor to that solo show, among its best booths.

Then there were at least 10 group shows, too. And the Walker Art Center announced that in 2025 it will exhibit White Hawk's first career survey.

Just as she's challenging art history's long-held ideas, she might be shifting how we think about the lone genius. Upon winning the prestigious $800,000 MacArthur grant, she honored a wide web of people, past and present, including the many friends and family members who help her bead her canvases.

Brilliance, indeed.

Jenna Ross

Kelsey Cook

Chad Daniels has long reigned as the most famous comic residing full-time in Minnesota. But he may be getting surpassed by his girlfriend. Kelsey Cook bought a house in the Twin Cities with Daniels earlier this year, establishing herself as one of us.

Not that she's been able to spend a ton of time here. Cook is a wildly successful road comic with two appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" under her belt. Her recent YouTube special, "The Hustler," has attracted more than 2.3 million views.

Cook leans into her All-American looks to trick audiences into thinking they won't get anything edgier than knock-knock jokes. Then she bowls them over with bits about the joys and tribulations of dating an older man in painfully funny — and raunchy — detail. Woe to the heckler who dares to flirt or belittle. Same goes to anyone who challenges her to a foosball match (she's a former world champion player).

Cook may have spent much of the year crisscrossing the country, but the Washington state native made time to put down some local roots, helping to judge Acme Comedy Company's Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest and closing out the 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival with Daniels. Her podcast, "Self-Helpless," which she hosts with Delanie Fischer, is distributed by Lemonada Media, which is based in Minneapolis.

But she'll continue to be in demand everywhere else. One of her best friends, Taylor Tomlinson, takes over the CBS late-night spot from James Corden early next year. Don't be surprised if that program becomes Cook's second home.

Neal Justin