Courtney Cochran to lead art projects in Water Knowledge Network series

by Laura Mann Hill

Courtney Cochran will create artwork with Water Knowledge Network workshop participants in Minneapolis this summer. (Photo by Nedahness Rose Green)

This summer, we'll be facilitating a series of workshops we're calling the Water Knowledge Network in Minneapolis.

Each workshop will focus on community skill-sharing and water quality education at the urban garden and community gathering sites of our amazing partners Plant-Grow-Share in South Minneapolis and 21st Century Academy in North Minneapolis. 

Like many of our water quality education events, these workshops will cover things like rain barrels and native plantings. But we're also excited to learn from participants. To gather that knowledge and create something together, we're engaging Courtney Cochran as our community artist for the series.

Spotlight on Courtney Cochran

Courtney Cochran is a Minneapolis-based Anishinaabe Artist, filmmaker and community organizer. You can find her work on Instagram @skoden_studio.

Courtney will work with FMR, a youth apprentice and community members to offer water-based art activities at Water Knowledge Network workshops. At 21st Century Academy, youth participants will create an image through community brainstorming and drawings. Courtney will convert the collective image into a screenprint and participants can upcycle and print on shirts, fabric or on a poster.    

Collecting the wisdom and skills shared orally and in pictures during these workshops, Courtney plans to create a community zine we can share with these program partners and other communities.

We asked Courtney about her work and her connection to water.

On getting started as an artist ...

"I've always been passionate about creating, but it wasn't until my mother passed away that I took it seriously. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with art and didn't think it was feasible, but she encouraged me to follow my passion."

On her relationship with water ...

"I grew up in Duluth so I've always lived by water and currently live by Wakpá Tháŋka (Mississippi). Having nature close by is extremely important for me to feel comfortable and taken care of. I was always taught that water is so important. While in utero, water is our first medicine. When the water breaks, life as an individual begins. It is a key part of our physical makeup and it's required for all living things. Water is life and with that gift comes a responsibility for us to protect it. Also we need to protect it for the future seven generations."

On our collaboration ...

"I am excited to see what ideas the community will share about water in these artistic formats."

We are too! Follow us on social media @friendsmissriv, and we'll be sure to share what Courtney and workshop participants create.

Water Is Life
This "Water is life" screenprint is an example of Courtney's art.

Get involved

While the Water Knowledge Network events are community-specific workshops, you can check out our slate of summer events that are open to the public. We also have offer a variety of educational opportunities for youth.

Project support

We're grateful to Mississippi Watershed Management Organization for the action grant that supports the Water Knowledge Network. Coca Cola will donate rain barrels. And thanks to our members for making all our programming possible.