Shortly after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rebecca Sorensen drove through Edina and was heartened by the Black Lives Matter posters she saw in the windows of businesses at 50th and France.
A short time later she learned an Edina Realty agent had been fired after writing on Facebook that she had taken down many of the posters in the business district. So Sorensen, a member of Edina’s Arts and Culture Commission, started organizing her own solution.
As a result, two dozen artists, both professionals and students, have created wooden signs with messages of inclusion and racial justice that will be placed in flowerpots along W. 50th Street.
The public art installation, called Seeds of Change, will be dedicated at noon Sunday at the fountain downtown. Mayor Jim Hovland plans to speak and Edina Realty will provide Popsicles and children’s activities.
Artist Alexander Brooks Parker helped some of the students create their art pieces, which will be waterproofed so they can be displayed all summer.
Brooks Parker was approached by Sorensen, who had seen his art outside his wife’s clothing store, Carole Bruns Couture, in Minneapolis. At 53, he has never had an official display of his artwork.
“I was a little surprised that Edina was doing this but very proud to be a part of it as an African American artist,” he said. “Having teenagers involved was a great thing too — to let the youth express themselves right now.”
Much of Brooks Parker’s work for the installation includes images of Floyd with phrases like “Keep Justice in Your Heart.” He’s eager to see the pieces surrounded by the students’work.
“It’s such a powerful sentiment for those in Edina and the larger community,” he said. “We’ve been segregated for so long. ... I believe if people take the time to look at it, it will be far reaching and show the necessity of us coming together.”
Rachel Adegbenro, former president of Edina High School’s Black Student Union, provided some of the art and involved other BSU students in the project. The group helped organize a Black Lives Matter march in Edina and a communitywide effort to collect donations for south Minneapolis in the wake of the riots.
Adegbenro said that while much of Edina doesn’t look like her, she has been touched to see how many Edina residents support the project and want to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I feel like in Edina, we’re kind of in a bubble,” she said. “I think this is a way to spread awareness and a way to get the conversation started here.”
Sorensen said the project offers “messages of hope and inclusion and racial justice from all ages, with every facet of community life jumping in to help bring [it] to life.”