Who Are We?

The Central Identity Project is a collaboration between Central neighborhood residents, Central neighborhood community organizations, and students from Green Central school. Without the participation, support and input of each of these key groups, this project would not be able to happen.

Like to get involved? Contact us at candida.gonzalez@mpls.k12.mn.us or call 612.668.3748!

Key Staff:

Greta McLain, Community Artist

Lead artist for the project, Greta McLain has 10 years of mural making experience. She earned her BA from the University of California Davis, her MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has traveled around South America and Europe studying new and traditional mural techniques. She has created painted and mosaic murals throughout the Twin Cities and made murals in Argentina, Mexico, France, Memphis and Philadelphia. She is currently the only muralist working with the indirect parachute cloth mural technique in Minnesota and has worked on numerous projects of comparable scale to the proposed Green Central mural. 

She has facilitated various projects in the Minneapolis Public Schools including murals at Windom, Ramsey IFAC, El Colegio, Andersen Elementary and South High School. She has lead a number of graffiti abatement projects and strongly believes in and has been witness to the positive results of providing a productive outlet for youth creativity. McLain was awarded 'El Fuerte de Barragan' for Artistic and Community Excellence for the mural Construyendo el Futuro with artist Melina Slobodian in December 2009, Ensenada, Argentina and was a recent participant in the Bush fellowship program, Creative Community Leadership Institute. 

She just completed a large mural in the Green Central Cafeteria with middle school youth- come by and check it out!

Candida Gonzalez, Green Central Community Education

Coordinator of the project, Candida is rounding out her first year working for Green Central Community Education and her fourth year with Minneapolis Community Education. Growing up in South Minneapolis, she is a product of the Minneapolis Public Schools, and her love of community art projects was fostered at Ramsey IFAC. Candida studied at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and went on to get her M.Ed. at The University of Minnesota. She enjoys being the multi-handed woman behind the scenes!

Jose Luis Villaseñor, Tamales y Bicicletas

Jose Luis Villasenor is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is a graduate of Augsburg College with a degree in Ethnic Studies. He has spent the last 15 years working with homeless youth, Latino students and immigrant families at various community organizations. As founder and Executive Director of Tamales y Bicicletas, Jose Luis works to raise awareness about the Indigenous cultural roots underlying many of today’s “green” efforts. Through this work, Jose Luis helps people understand that sustainability has always been a major cornerstone of Indigenous ways of living. As a child, Jose Luis vividly remembers the adobe home his father built. In the oral tradition, Jose Luis’ parents would tell him stories detailing the ways in which they constructed a sustainable life in Mexico - biking and walking transportation systems, purchasing or bartering for locally grown food, and using baños secos (compost based toilets). This process of cultural empowerment and reclaiming Mexican Indigenous technology is what informs Jose Luis’ youth work, thereby supporting immigrant students to live in harmony with themselves, their families, and mother earth. Following and rebuilding on these cultural traditions, Tamales y Bicicletas serves as a much needed vehicle for Latino youth and families to learn about and organize for environmental and food justice.

Jose Luis is working with The Central Identity Project to organize our community discussions and bring residents into the workshops. You can also check him out as his DJ alter-ego with his traveling sound system and some of our community paint workshops!

LaPorsha Allen, community artist and organizer

LaPorsha Allen is not a Minnesota native but after 6 years she is proud to call it her home. With a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. She has been able to put her degree to good use in the many opportunities the Twin Cities has offered especially in the Arts. Her piece [She] was recently accepted by the Equality Center at the University of Minnesota.  She is currently working on 4 women, an Ojibwe name given to an Ojibwe woman who wants to commemorate her heritage through her name visually. 

Tamar Williams, videographer

Tamar Williams is a native of the south side central community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He currently serves as a literacy tutor at Richard Green Central Park Elementary. After school he teaches film making, video production, and how to build creative relationships to deliver value. Prior to his current position he graduated in film making, video digital arts, and screenwriting. You can contact him at: tamarcwilliams@gmail.com.

Lamia Abukhadra, intern artist assistant

"I started painting murals last summer when I decided to help design and paint the mural at South High School. I enjoyed being able to express myself and my opinions visually. Art gives everyone an opportunity to show themselves, no matter the skill level. During the school year, I work on ceramic pieces and mosaic."

Samie Johnson, intern artist assistant

"My name is Samie Johnson and I am a senior at Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. I am passionate about people and creating art with an array of mediums. So I am naturally drawn to creating murals. Rich content driven design has the power to reach the entire community in a positive way becauses it is created by, for and about the community. Public art unites social concerns with an affected community and has the power to ignite an important dialogue and mobilize change. My first experience participating in a large scale mural project was last summer where I helped to create a mural entitled “We the People”. Along with Greta Mclain and other local Muralist, South High students helped to design and paint a large scale mural discussing the injustices which have occurred in US history and continue today. Last summer’s mural was an amazing experience and I am so excited and appreciative to be working on the Central Identity project." 

Eamonn McLain, intern artist assistant

Eamonn McLain grew up in the small town of Powderhorn Park in southern Minneapolis.He grew up playing music and admiring his sister's artistic ability. In college after deciding against architecture and engineering he followed in his sister's footsteps and studied the visual arts. For the past two years Eamonn McLain has worked as an artist assistant in South Minneapolis and the midway area in St. Paul. He plays cello with Lucy Michelle and The Velvet Lapelles and occasionally with Trampled by Turtles. He is a graduate of the U of M with a BFA in sculpture and lives with his girlfriend's puppy in his sister's home. 

Elise Buxbaum, intern artist assistant

"My name is Elise Buxbaum. I graduated from MCAD. I love teaching art at Jefferson and Emerson in Minneapolis. I am a passionate artist who enjoys being outside and being in a community environment!"

Key Neighborhood Partners:

  • We Win Institute: Located at 3805 3rd Avenue South, We Win Institute is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the academic and social success of all students. Their curriculum emphasizes African history and culture and they aim to create pride in children of African descent. 
  • Green Central Community EducationThe Community Education program at Richard Green Central has serviced children and families for over ten years. Approximately 175 K-8 students attend after-school programs on a typical day. Emphasis is placed on academic enrichment, leadership development, service to the community, and creative expression.
  • CANDO (Central Neighborhood Association): CANDO began in 2006 with an all-volunteer staff to renew the mission of promoting neighborhood livability and stability, fostering economic development, and strenghthening communication through inclusive ad represntative community involvment. CANDO works with NRP, the new Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) department, the City of Minneapolis, other organizations, non-profits, government organizations and of course with residents and business owners to develop a wide variety of plans and programs with an emphasis on housing.  CANDO staff works to connect residents to resources to imporve their lives and this very specail, historic and always diverse community.
  • Tamales y Bicicletas: Tamales y Bicicletas is a non-profit organization that works to develop healthy Latino and immigrant communities through bikes, cultural empowerment and environmental justice. Jose Luis Villaseñor, TyB's executive director, is working with The Central Identity Project to organize our community discussions and bring residents into the workshops. You can also check him out as his DJ alter-ego with his traveling sound system and some of our community paint workshops!
  • Green Central School: Located in the heart of South Minneapolis, minutes away from the Miracle Mile (revitalized Lake Street) and several park and recreation areas, Green Central is a school that emphasizes high standards in science, math and reading throughout the curriculum. In an effort to maintain a safe and secure environment, we continue to develop peaceful and respectful relationships among staff, students, parents and the surrounding community.
  • Youth Farm and Market Project: Youth Farm gardens with youth ages 9-24 in neighborhoods all over the Twin Cities with the following goals: build young leaders, promote healthy bodies and minds, contribute to the positive identity of children and youth, create neighborhood connections and opportunities for contribution, and to develop and nurture healthy relationships.
  • Sabathani Community Center: Located on 310 E 38th Street, Sabathani Community Center is a shining example of what a community can do when it sets it's mind to something! Founded in 1966 by concerned residents and members of the Sabathani Baptist Church as a place to provide recreation for neighborhood youth, Sabathani has grown into a place that serves the whole community. Many businesses and organizations call Sabathani their home, and outside boasts a community garden and playground. Stop by and check them out!