In May, the Minneapolis Institute of Art installed local student artworks in an exhibition that addresses marginalized communities’ experiences with systemic racism in healthcare.

This exhibition, titled “Teen Perspectives on Racism and Health Equity”, is presented in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

In a press release, Blue Cross’ chief equity officer and vice president of racial and health equity Bukata Hayes explained the importance of sharing teen artists’ perspectives with the community.

“Art is powerful – it allows neighbors to experience life through a new lens and starts necessary, thought-provoking discussions,” Hayes said.

“Dios no es destino,” on exhibit at Mia, by Lucía Samayoa, a student at Highland Park Senior High. It explores the tendency of Hispanic and Latinx communities to keep difficult life experiences private. The artist notes how this stigmatizes mental health in these communities. Samayoa explores the importance of cycle-breaking and healing through personal family photos and writing.

The exhibition features work from teenage students attending Southwest High School, Como Park Senior High School, FAIR School for Arts, Perpich Arts High School, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Minnesota Transitions Charter School, Highland Park Senior High, St. Paul City School and Thomas Jefferson High School.

The teen artworks draw attention to injustices and difficulties that different identity groups in our community experience. Students involved in this project worked with artist mentors at the Mia for six weeks last winter in a brainstorming and discussion process.

This painting by Perpich student Pasi Lee draws upon BIPOC communities’ cultural anxieties and distrust of the U.S. healthcare system. Lee portrays a personal anecdote in which Pasi’s grandmother was hospitalized and the fear and anxiety associated with the experience.

“We will not succeed in eliminating systemic racism without elevating the voices and stories from our community members who have historically been silenced,” says Hayes, who hopes to unite the community “starting with awareness, conversations, and honest reflections for how we all can drive change that needs to happen to ultimately dismantle systemic racism.”

“Disparities will prey on the most vulnerable” by Sarah LaBarre of Southwest High School comments on maternal health and the inequity mothers of different races face. “In Minnesota, Black women are 2.3 times more likely to die from childbirth-related complications than white women,” LaBarre writes. The artist paints the subject trapped in a complex and difficult environment, symbolizing the complexity and enormity of the issue.

The exhibition is open through September 1 at Mia on the first floor.