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Public Art Saint Paul Presents

In 2022, Public Art Saint Paul launched a new project called Public Art Saint Paul Presents to celebrate all new public art and artists in the City of Saint Paul. Follow our newsletter so you can join us at the next Public Art Saint Paul Presents party!

Frogtown/Rondo Recipes at Victoria Community Gardens

New Public Art in Rondo

Back in 2019, the Art of Food in Frogtown and Rondo Coalition gathered artists to consider composing work that considers questions on food, place, and community. Z Akhmetova’s proposal was the winning selection. Z set out to interview community members of the Frogtown and Rondo Neighborhoods to gather stories of food traditions and hopes for a future where food is a resource that is equitably distributed in every neighborhood.

Z transformed these conversations into beautiful murals that depict members of the Frogtown and Rondo Communities and their food traditions. These murals, titled Frogtown/Rondo Recipes, can be found at the Victoria Community Gardens in Saint Paul. Read below for our interview with Z on their process and inspiration:

What was something you learned about food or the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods, or anything you learned throughout your process that surprised you? 

There’s no part of life that doesn’t somehow relate to food.  Now I walk around my neighborhood and see pieces of the food system everywhere: backyard ducks, community gardens, weekly cookouts.  And I was delightfully surprised by the life stories and insights that came out of the conversations I started about food.

How were you connected with the subjects of your murals?

My initial plan was to walk around, talk to people, and knock on doors to find neighbors to interview for the project.  COVID made that impossible.  It turned out to be really lucky that my day job is also in the neighborhood.  In the end, one of my subjects was a coworker, one was the relative of another coworker, and the third was a friend of one of the other artists in my Art of Food cohort.  And they were all at very different stages of life, with interesting stories to tell.

Is there anything you hope the viewer carries with them after interacting with these murals?

I hope people get curious about how food affects their lives, and that they start conversations with their own friends and neighbors.  Also I hope they try Ms Mary’s pie recipe – it’s delicious.

If limitless resources suddenly fell into your lap but they could only be used to make art, what would you make?

OH BOY.  Where to start?  I’d definitely do more work like I did for the murals – interviewing people about their lives and painting portraits of them.  But I’d also want to make fabric sculptures of animals, like 8 foot tall ones.  I’d spend two years embroidering one big, super detailed tapestry.  I’d make a fully illustrated fantasy-horror novel.  Maybe I’d learn some basic boat-building, because I’ve had this idea floating around my head about a wooden pelican…