Project 30.1 – Meet the Artists

Meet the Project 30.1 Artists:


Afro Anime Illustrator Ron Brown.  Long, yet it captures the style he creates. Many forms. Fluid lines. Drawing influence from African American artists Alex Ross, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gordon Parks, the dynamics of Marvel comics and graffiti are equally puissant in Brown’s work. He prides his material on being accessible and founded in the reality of the five senses, and capable of hurling the viewer into the infinite possibilities behind our stimuli. Now in North Minneapolis via Gary and Flint, Ron has learned that his art is not always welcome in Minnesota Nice. Years ago, he was asked to take a collage down at the government center downtown because it had images of George Bush as a vampire. That was mild.  Brown is unlimited by form or medium. While pen and paper illustration provides a foundation to much of what he does, dumpster diving provides many found  materials, and Brown can often be found sketching and creating works during his own shows and openings.  One of his favorite live art creations was for a holiday show at Public Functionary when housed in NE Minneapolis- doing live sketches for people much like at comic book conventions.  Whether quick drawing or a little more time commissions, he produces quickly.



Stephanie Howell is a 22 year old mixed media artist based in Wisconsin. Geared with a love for metaphor, story and deep retrospection, her work is focused on the female perspective, looking at mental health, interpersonal relationships, independence and personal stories. She works with a variety of media, but her main focus is watercolor, ink and acrylic. She has done large and small scale work, and has been involved with The Art House in River Falls, The Artists of Baileys Park in Baldwin, and has had her work recognized by the Milwaukee Museum of Art. The art scene in the Midwest is so varied and vibrant and she loves being a part of it.





Lissa Karpeh is a Liberian American painter currently living and working in Minnesota. Her life-size paintings are informed by her first-generation immigrant identity and background in mental health work. Karpeh explores the self, other, and context in her figural, richly colored oil and acrylic paintings. Her recent work examines the concept of “double consciousness” (developed by W. E. B. Du Bois) as it relates to western oppressive perceptions of Black identity. She received her BFA from Saint Cloud State and is currently an artist in the Studio 400 cohort. Descriptions of her expressive painting style have recently been featured in Vanity Fair magazine.





Liz Malanaphy (lead artist/project concept) has taught various art classes at The Phipps for nine years. Liz is a mother of five who has worked with hundreds of students through the Hudson Destination Imagination program and various other community projects. Liz is formally trained in nothing in particular but passionate and curious about many things. She believes in the power of collaboration, and that weaving a community together is an art form of its own. She finds it most important to empower young people to discover their own passions, and teach them how to make the difference they want to see in the world.






David Markson began painting murals in 1978 when he was hired to be a part of the group, Artspeople of Wisconsin, for Pierce County, and spent 18 months doing murals and other community-art projects throughout the county.  When his tenure with Artspeople ended, he continued to work in the mural-field, sharing his talents with a wide range of schools and communities in western Wisconsin to this day, including notable projects in Glenwood City, Ellsworth, Hammond, Amery and River Falls, where he resides.  He has worked in schools as far afield as Birchwood, Prairie Farm, Fall Creek, Prescott and many, many others.   Mr. Markson in very active in the promotion and activation of the Arts in his community, being instrumental in the founding of River Falls Community Theatre, the River Falls Commnity Arts Base (the local arts-umbrella organization), the Music in the Park series and the Art on the Kinni art fair – all of which continue to benefit from his involvement.  He has been the local “sign guy” through his independent sign painting business since 1985, where he continues to “work the brush” – eschewing the move to computers that has become so prevalent in the sign industry.  Much of his recent focus has been on live music performance as a bass player in several area bands.



Geno Okok was born in Western Nigeria, Geno Okok developed his passion for art at the age of 7. With his use of unique colors and textures, he strives to influence creativity and modern pop art. Geno describes his style of painting as a “Realistic Expressionism”. By creating paintings of everyday people, his art is an artistic illustration of joyful moments in life. He studied at the Art Institute and has since evolved to become one of the most recognizable Young artist in Minnesota, USA. His collection of art works captures various elements of the African spirit; beauty, music fashion, femininity, and grace.






Sebastian Rivera is a north Minneapolis based artist and community leader. He has been organizing in the northwest suburbs in different capacities for the past 4 years. Most of his work has focused on the intersection of housing and immigration in the metro area and the northwest suburbs. His art specializes in narrative realism, taking personal and community struggles and transforming them into impactful social messages.







Thomasina Topbear “I am a self taught indigenous muralist, I am a member of the international all female paint crew Few & Far Women, I also helped found City Mischief Murals, an all BIPOC art collective in the Twin Cities. I have organized a number of local and national community based murals focusing on youth, women & indigenous artists. My influences come from my Dakota & Lakota culture, graffiti style type lettering and use murals to express my feelings on community, social justice, culture, feminism and togetherness.”






Project Advisors:

Ta–coumba T. Aiken is a Twin Cities artist, arts administrator, educator and community activist who focuses on public art and collaborative projects. His “rhythm paintings” on paper and canvas are loose and lively. He has participated in the creation of over 300 murals and public art sculptures with themes ranging from local history to the artist’s own style of rhythmic pattern and spirit writing. The artist has served on the boards of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the African American Cultural Arts Center, Forecast Public Arts, and the St. Paul Art Collective and has acted as an advisor on the arts for both the City of St. Paul and the City of Minneapolis. He has been the recipient of awards including a Pollock–Krasner Foundation Fellowship and a Bush Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship. His painting entitled, “Forever Saint Paul” was awarded the Guinness Book World Record for the most Lite-Brite pegs ever used (596,000+) to create a painting. This piece is permanently located in the Saint Paul Union Depot. His works can be found in public and private collections including those of the Walker Art Center, The McKnight Foundation, General Mills, Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, and Maya Angelou.




Moira Villiard is an independent traditional artist, activist, muralist, speaker, writer, designer and filmmaker who is well-known for her live painting demonstrations at cafes, fledgling businesses, event openings and in classrooms; a major part of her philosophy is making art accessible and interactive. Stylistically, her artwork ebbs and pulls between the realms of portraiture, illustration and surrealism. Villiard grew up on the Fond du Lac reservation in Cloquet, Minnesota, and is an Ojibwe and Delaware Lenape descendent. She served as the Arts & Cultural Program Coordinator at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) and is a freelance writer, creative/community consultant, editor and graphic designer. Villiard is the Vice Chair for the Executive Board of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and co-founder of Dream of Duluth: A Global Outreach Initiative (Uganda). She received her Bachelor of Science in Communicating Arts with a minor in Global Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Superior in 2016.