Cohen Recognition Project Artists

Learn more about the contributing artists and their work.

Tomas Araya

I am a multimedia visual artist whose work centers around storytelling, decolonization narrative, nature & environmental awareness. Making artwork that praises mother nature and my indigenous traditions in a powerful, mystical way has always been my artistic dream. I am a proud descendant of the Diaguita tribes, far down south in the valleys of the Andean Mountains.

The dove adornments represent a down scaled fraction of a tale about the ancient eagle and condor, meeting each other to build a new world. In it you can see the world's mountain tree, weaving with its roots every passage of the tale in an abstract fragmented way, just like it had to be passed down to us, camouflaged and hidden from plain sight, in order to keep it alive.

Bryan Etheir working in a glass shop.

Bryan Ethier

I am pleased to participate in this project since Larry Cohen was a close friend of my family when I was growing up. I wish to thank Foci and the numerous assistants that helped make the fabrication of the glass beads for this project possible.

I am a mixed media artist working with different materials such as wood, glass and neon. My thirty years experience in the art field began as a clothing designer followed by joint ownership of a successful neon design and fabrication sign business in Saint Paul. I began experimenting with neon as an art form in the late 1980s and developed mixed media art pieces.

In 1995 I began working with hot glass casting with mixed components. From 2012-2015 I served as chairperson of the board of Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts. I currently work as Bicycle Glass Company's hot shop manager. I also am an instructor of hot casting and neon classes at Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts.

My team that helped make the pergola’s cane glass beads includes Michael Boyd, Ashlee Hale, Kate Herron, Ty Pratumwon, John Reichel, and Franco Schildknecht.

Graci Horne

I was born and raised in Minnesota and growing up here I never once heard anyone acknowledge that the land they live on is the ancestral homelands to the Dakota people. My career as an artist is primarily a promise to kinship and land. My art embodies the goals and passion to bring Dakota stories and narratives to the forefront of people’s comprehension. To overshadow the inaccuracies written by colonizers through Dakota art and theology.

The story I chose to weave is about our creation story about Pte San Win (The White Buffalo Calf Woman) our grandmother. In the story I illustrated her pregnant as she is the mother of our way of life. The great magpie is in flight above her and Dakota floral is weaving on the right of her like abstract grass and flowers. This side of the dove chair should be viewed first. The other side depicts how a child is symbolically reaching for the gift and responsibility that we are giving them as the current care takers. The Dakota floral design depicts a bear claw which means our responsibility to care for the wamakaskan oyate (the animal nation), caring for makah (earth) comes next, respect and love for mni wiconi (water of life), and then continuing our ancestral teachings is represented in the tusweca (dragonfly).

The words on the Pte San Win side means Mni ohna makamibe deci unhipi/ we came through this world through water. On the child side it says Mni un makowangaya kapi / creation is water. This comes from a poem I wrote about our connection to water. This was translated by my relative Joe Bendickson from Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

The way to look at public art is that it is similar to a museum. To be an artist with work in a museum’s collection is an opportunity to have your voice be forever heard by countless people and throughout time. I look at this piece as being a way to reach my grandchildren’s children’s children. May they always remember De Dakota Makoce and may Non-Dakota people always remember that they too have a responsibility to treat and care for this sacred land with respect, gratitude, and love. Always remember this land holds our blood like we hold the land deep in our hearts. A bond that will never be broken. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Pa Na Lor

I am a multidisciplinary artist working in experimental animation, printmaking and painting. I have a MFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts and BFA in 2-Dimensional Art from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. I currently work as a communications associate and reside in Minneapolis, MN.

My animation consisting of limited hand drawings digitally collage with woodblock prints and/or oil paintings are told through kwv txhiaj (traditional Hmong folksong.) I experiment with animation to portray visual abstractions and stories of being caught between the Hmong and American cultures though rich colored, hand printed textures and hand drawn characters. 

My experimental films have screened at the Qhia Dag Neeg Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival and Central Wisconsin Film Festival. In addition, my woodblock prints and experimental animation installations have been exhibited and curated in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I create woodblock prints of abstract landscapes of purples, reds, indigos and whites. When I am not animating or printing, I enjoy the guilty pleasure of landscape and still-life oil painting.

My dove chair design is a dedication to Hmong women, a steal chair (resilience and strength) designed with Hmong paj ntaub elements (elegance and beauty). It is said that to preserve the Hmong written language, women created and sewed the designs into their clothing and baby carriers. Therefore, the dove wears a xauv (silver necklace) and she is adorned with familiar design elements to portray her feathers. While her frontal and tail are adorned with design elements found on baby carriers.

Learn more about my art at

Connor Rice

CRICE is a multi-media artist from the southside of Minneapolis who graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2014. The driving forces in his practice are authenticity, how art interacts in an urban environment, how the community engages with it and the temporality of art in the public domain.  

By employing ancient symbols and blending them with a modern sensibility, the art seeks to distort our preconceived notions of human history. We can begin to shift the modern paradigm by changing the visual narrative of colonization. Thus our shared divinity becomes apparent. Through the use of bold iconography and an aesthetic that is heavily influenced by hip-hop and street art, as well as ancient propaganda complex themes are translated. The work seeks to comment on the exploitation of the Black identity and to reflect on personal experiences within a euro-centric society. Taking visual inspiration from hieroglyphs and graffiti, the art chronicles the issues of pan-Africanist realities across time and space. By reflecting on colonized and formerly enslaved people’s hidden histories, we can begin to envision our own future beyond subjugation and oppression.

The chair features allegorical elements that relate to the life of judge Larry Cohen and tell a tale of the metaphysical journey destined for every soul. One side depicts the elemental symbols and seated figures of judges that reference Cohen’s time on earth. Continuing the water trail around the form of the bird is the Sun barge completing its celestial journey. The back panel features symbols that relate to the final judgment with an overall focus on social justice. The front of the bird additionally features elements relating to new life and growth. The final side features a litany of stars and other cosmic entities surrounding a star man figure which represents the soul’s journey through the heavens.