If you’ve visited the new nature play area in the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge near the Old Cedar Avenue bridge trailhead, you are already familiar with artist Christopher E. Harrison’s work. The entrance gate installation is permanent public art, featuring representations of wildlife and plants from the region.
“I hope it has a sense of fun, interaction and identity,” Harrison said. “I try to put myself in the mindset of ‘what is the personality of where this art piece is going to be?’ To me that’s an important part of public art. It has to have the personality, the soul of the area it’s going to be in.”
In the summer of 2020 when the uprisings happened in the Twin Cities following the killing of George Floyd, Harrison painted eight public murals around Minneapolis.
“That was my advocacy. I use the skills I have to push forward the discussion of civil rights and people being able to live the life they want to live without violence or struggle,” Harrison said. “It’s a way to release pain, aggression and fear and create a dialogue that people can absorb. Art really mirrors our time, our existence. It’s important to always have that element there so we can remind ourselves of our history.”