Call for Artists: Minnesota Department of Transportation Community Vitality Fellow


Minnesota Department of Transportation

Developing Community Collaborations to Advance Transportation Goals through Transportation for America’s Artist in Residence Program


MnDOT is evaluating how to elevate the aesthetic, environmental, social and cultural values of a community within a transportation project. By hosting the Community Vitality Fellow, MnDOT can pilot innovative public-private partnerships and incorporate new methods of public engagement with the goal of improving project outcomes in both urban and rural settings across state of Minnesota.

Launching in July 2019, the Community Vitality Fellow will spend a year working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to help develop new ways of achieving agency strategic operating goals through an artist in residence program created by ArtPlace America, McKnight Foundation and Transportation for America, a program of Smart Growth America. As an area of development, MnDOT is evaluating how to elevate the aesthetic, environmental, social and cultural values of a community within a transportation project. By hosting the Community Vitality Fellow, MnDOT can pilot innovative public-private partnerships and incorporate new methods of public engagement with the goal of improving project outcomes in both urban and rural settings across state of Minnesota. The Community Vitality Fellow will:

  • Develop processes and procedures to further evaluate and integrate elements that elevate the unique character of each community within the transportation system.
  • Bring creative problem solving skills and strategic thinking to design challenges, while providing guidance on potential improvements to how MnDOT plans, builds, operates and maintains our infrastructure using community feedback.
  • Pilot innovative public engagement strategies to further build customer trust as set forth in the MnDOT 2018-2022 Strategic Operating Plan by engaging a wide range of stakeholders, including elected officials, tribal governments, community organizations.
  • The fellowship is a cost-effective, low-risk, low-commitment approach to evaluating MnDOT’s processes and procedures around community requests for enhanced landscaping, art and placemaking in MnDOT’s right of way for a relatively small investment ($150,000 {$50,000 in direct investment, $100,000 in in-kind staffing support}).
  • MnDOT supports transportation infrastructure that reflects the assets and distinct character of communities while supporting economic development efforts and community vitality across the state.
  • Creative placemaking, art and enhanced green infrastructure support quality of life and economic competitiveness in communities across Minnesota.
  • The fellowship will result in highway sponsorship projects that leverage taxpayer dollars by encouraging public-private partnerships that result in improved environmental sustainability and enhanced highway aesthetics.

Examples of Government-Based Artist in Residence
Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence (Los Angeles, California)

  • Host Agency: Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Partner: Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Artist: Alan Nakagawa
  • Description: Nakagawa worked with LA’s Vision Zero program and used public art to heighten awareness of traffic fatalities and shift driving behavior.

Irrigate (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

  • Host Agency: Public Art Saint Paul
  • Partners: City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Coalition, Springboard for the Arts
  • Artists: more than 220 artists completed 150 projects
  • Description: Trained artists from the neighborhoods around the Green Line light rail partnered with businesses and organizations along University Avenue in St. Paul and over 36 months produced projects during the construction period in to promote economic activity and support impacted businesses.

Creative CityMaking (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

  • Host Agency: Intermedia Arts
  • Partners: City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning & Economic Development Division (CPED), ArtPlace America
  • Description: Artists were embedded in CPED’s Long Range Planning Division and integrated in five planning projects to enhance and develop new strategies, particularly as it relates to improving civic engagement and addressing racial disparities in housing, transportation, and income.


More information and instructions for applying are available at Smart Growth America.

This residency is open to artists 18 years of age or older who are residents of the state of Minnesota and are eligible to work in the U.S. for the length of the residency.  The residency will not sponsor green cards, visas, or citizenship. Paperwork should be sorted out prior to residency start date, which is not flexible. The AIR must be able to work in at MnDOT headquarters in St Paul, MN for the duration of the residency. Artists working in any media are encouraged to apply, however, artists must have extensive experience with community engagement and collaboration as part of their practice. Artists at any career level may apply. The residency will include an ongoing public component including blogging and social media posts. T4America, MnDOT, SSTI, and ArtPlace retain the right to use documentation of AIR’s work, or the original work itself, in promotional materials. The AIR retains copyright to produced work.


ArtPlace America

ArtPlace is a ten-year collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities. ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking, which describes projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. This brings artists, arts organizations, and artistic activity into the suite of placemaking strategies pioneered by Jane Jacobs and her colleagues, who believed that community development must be locally informed, human-centric, and holistic.


MnDOT ‘s mission is to plan, build, operate and maintain a safe, accessible, efficient and reliable multimodal transportation system that connects people to destinations and markets throughout that state, regionally and around the world. Minnesota’s multimodal transportation system maximizes the health of people, the environment and our economy. MnDOT will co-fund the Community Vitality Fellowship, host the fellow, provide access to key leaders, work space, and support the program through in-kind staff support.


The State Smart Transportation Initiative promotes transportation practices that advance environmental sustainability and equitable economic development, while maintaining high standards of governmental efficiency and transparency. SSTI, jointly operated by the University of Wisconsin and Smart Growth America, operates in three ways:

As a community of practice, where participating agencies can learn together and share experiences as they implement innovative smart transportation policies.
As a source of direct technical assistance to the agencies on transformative and replicable smart transportation reform efforts.
As a resource to the wider transportation community, including local, state, and federal agencies, in their efforts to reorient practice to changing social and financial demands.

SSTI will provide T4A guidance on issuing a call for artists and to MnDOT during quarterly video conference calls, and provide a forum for results of residency to be shared with additional state DOT executive leaders.


Transportation for America, a program of Smart Growth America, is an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the country, united to ensure that states and the federal government invest in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions. These are the investments that hold the key to our future economic prosperity. The fellow will report to the director, arts & culture at Transportation for America, Ben Stone. T4A will manage the Artist in Residence program, collaborate with funding partners, provide technical assistance to MnDOT during the call for artist’s process and project scoping, and to the selected fellow throughout the proposed timeline.


  • March 20, 2019: Smart Growth America: T4A Releases call for artists.
  • April 17, 2019: Webinar: Call for Artists: MnDOT Community Vitality Fellowship
  • May 1, 2019: Application deadline.
  • June 2019: Interviews & selection with panel of leaders from partner agencies.
  • July 29, 2019: Fellowship and rotations begin. T4A staff will orient fellow on site for 3-5 days and introduce project to MnDOT staff.
  • Dec. 1, 2019: Departmental rotations conclude.
  • October 2019: Present at Rail~Volution Conference 2019.
  • June 2020: Final meeting with T4A, MnDOT leadership and fellow; second webinar Presentation.
  • Winter 2020: MnDOT leadership presents program to state DOT leaders at SSTI Community of Practice convening

Fellowship rotations

The fellow will be embedded at MnDOT for a 12-month period, spending the first four months in departmental rotations and shadowing to understand MnDOT’s operations and strategic priorities. These departments include:

  • Public Engagement and Constituent Services and Tribal Affairs
  • Greater MN District Offices
  • Metro District Office
  • Center for Community Connections & Rethinking I-94
  • Office of Transit and Active Transportation
  • Office of Environmental Stewardship
  • Office of Land Management
  • Project Management and Tech Support
  • Bridge
  • Maintenance
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV-X)


  • Complete a final report with recommendations for process enhancements at MnDOT;
  • Culminating the residence with (1) new project, proposal or process at MnDOT;
  • A training for MnDOT project managers on strategies for working with communities requesting art, placemaking and enhanced green infrastructure on MnDOT right of way;
  • A brief field scan of art and placemaking currently in MnDOT’s right of way;
  • An analysis of innovative public engagement tactics utilized for MnDOT projects to engage underrepresented communities in project design and planning;
  • Summary of interviews with MnDOT District Engineers and rural economic development professionals around greater Minnesota on placemaking and transportation infrastructure


Jessica Oh 
[email protected]
Highway Sponsorship Program Director 
MnDOT Office of Land Management 

Richard Davis 
[email protected]
Office Director 
Public Engagement & Constituent Services

Opportunity Opens

Sunday, Mar 24th 2019

Opportunity Closes

Wednesday, May 1st 2019, 11:45pm

Application Location

MN Artists