Red Lake

by Robert DesJarlait, 2005

About the art

One of two companion pieces created for the library in 2005, “Red Lake” sits next to the library’s American Indian collection and connects deeply to Native heritage and communities. (The name itself memorializes the 2005 deaths at Red Lake reservation.) Artist Robert DesJarlait is an activist, writer and artist, as well as the son of well-known Ojibwe artist Patrick DesJarlait Sr. Like his father, the younger DesJarlait uses art to honor his heritage. Here, he does so with pictographs that create a vibrant tale of the Anishinaabe people’s origin story. The storyteller holds a sacred shell in his hand, through which life-giving force flows out, and the seven animals symbolize the seven original Anishinaabe clans. The image also honors the Four Orders of Life: the star world, plant world, animal world and humans, offering powerful imagery to anchor the library’s American Indian collection.

Artists statement

We believe the arts have a transformative and healing dimension. Many of us are losing our understanding of both the traditional symbols of our cultural heritage as well as the significance of current artistic efforts. For immigrant or bicultural people, especially youth shaping their identity and elders grieving the dilution of their cultural heritage, there is healing in art.

Funded by the Minneapolis Public Library Percent for Art Program