Call for Art: Water 2020

What: A region-wide biennial, Water 2020: A Minnesota Biennial, open to people currently based in the state and displaced indigenous people whose nations originated in Mni Sóta Makoce, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds.
Where: Minnesota Museum of American Art (the M), with subsequent venues to be announced.
When: May 7 – September 6, 2020, with subsequent exhibition dates to be announced.
Application period: November 7 – January 27, 2020 (11:59pm CST).

Minnesota Museum of American Art (the M), located on traditional, ancestral, and contemporary homelands of the Dakhóta, announces a call to artists for a juried, region-wide biennial focused on the theme of water, May 7, 2020 – September 6, 2020.

Imni Za Ska, now known as Saint Paul, Minnesota is a place name which refers to the white bluffs along the Mississippi River. This water body is a life-giving force which runs a mere block from our space. The M’s proximity to this complex and storied river system is a reminder of the flowing of water from one community to the next and of the fact that every aspect of our lives is dependent on water. We come from water.

The river also speaks to colonial settler violence. Sacred to its original stewards, the river served as the dividing line for colonizing acts by the United States that removed indigenous people from their lands. Once pristine, the river has been polluted, and ecosystems disrupted by mills and subsequent industry and habitation. As climate change continues to intensify, disparities in access to clean and abundant water along lines of race, class, and gender have become defining issues of our time.

The M invites artists connected to the lakes, marshes, streams, rivers, and groundwaters of our region to submit work in any media that engages these issues, including those who seek to foster appreciation and care for these water systems through their art. With this biennial, the M seeks to highlight the important role artists across the rural and urban communities in our region are playing in fostering conversation, awareness, and new ways of thinking about water through ecological, social, political, historical, creative, and aesthetic lenses. We welcome collaborative approaches that broaden conversations for the many constituents that rely on the river in one form or another. We welcome applicants who do creative work but do not identify as artists.

This 2020 biennial revives and builds on the M’s tradition of surveying contemporary artistic practices in the state of Minnesota. In recognition of their historical, spiritual, and personal connection to the land and water, as well as their history of displacement from this region, we encourage indigenous peoples whose nations originated in this area to bring their voices to this exhibition regardless of their current location. The opportunity is also open to artists currently based in Minnesota.

The exhibition will be juried by a panel that includes Matthew Fluharty, a visual artist, writer, and Executive Director of Art of the Rural; Dakota Hoska, Assistant Curator of Native Arts the Denver Art Museum; Laura Joseph, Curator of Exhibitions at the Minnesota Museum of American Art; and Jovan C. Speller, a visual artist, curator, and Program Director at Metro Regional Arts Council.

The M aims to make this opportunity accessible. If there is something that we can do to make it easier to apply, please feel free to email or call Laura Joseph (; 651.797.2853). We welcome all suggestions and requests.

In addition to offering one-on-one support, the M will host a series of workshops for artists needing assistance with their application. Watch for dates and information on our website and on social media.

Minnesota Museum of American Art is one of the oldest visual arts organizations in Minnesota, with roots stretching back to the 19th century. Based in Saint Paul, the M currently holds more than 5,000 artworks that showcase the unique voices of American artists, guided by the belief that art should reflect the constantly shifting landscape that defines the American experience. The M opened its new museum facility in the Historic Pioneer Endicott in December 2018 and has plans to expand further, with additional galleries scheduled to open in 2021.

For more information about the M, visit, or follow @mnmuseum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Application requirements: 

The M requests artists submit digital images/files of original, existing artwork via the application portal at for consideration. The M will retain the submitted images of accepted artwork and reserves the right to use the images in exhibition publicity. Beyond such use, the artist retains full copyright of exhibited work. All entries need to be of EXISTING work.

Submitting an entry indicates that, should it be selected, you agree to make your work available by the specified date, for the full duration of the exhibition and for the exhibition tour (venues and dates to be announced).

  • There is a limit of five artwork submissions per artist or artist collaborative.
  • Artists may submit one image for each work. For artists who wish to submit an alternate view or a detail image, please incorporate both views as a side-by-side comparison in one image file.
  • Original attachment filenames are discarded, as all filenames are automatically renamed on upload.
  • Submission attachments must be under 4 mb and a maximum of 4800px on the longest side.
  • Users can upload the following image based file types as long as they are under 4mb file size: jpg and png.
  • Users can upload the following additional file formats as long as they are under 25mb file size: mp3, mp4, mov, and pdf.
  • Submission attachments are permanently resized into 3 separate sizes (regardless of the original size): 100px, 1080px, maximum saved dimension setting (1920px by default).
  • Please complete all required fields including: physical dimensions, description, title, date, and media.
  • Along with images, artists must submit an artist statement (500 words max). Your artist statement should give an overall sense of your submitted work and the concepts and questions that drive it. Tell us what it is, how you made it, and why you made it.
  • Accepted artwork must be the actual artwork as seen in the submitted images. 
  • The M will arrange for pickup and return of the artwork. 


This video provides a tutorial about the submission process.
Here is some guidance about photographing your work for submission.


November 7, 2019: Application call opens.
January 27, 2020: Application deadline (11:59pm CST).
February 18, 2020: Notification of selection (or artwork selected) emailed to artists.
February 24, 2020: Accepted artists submit bio and high-res images.
April 1 – April 16, 2020: Artwork picked up by museum staff. May 7, 2020: Exhibition opens at the M.
May 8, 2020: Reception and Juror’s Talk (tentative date).
September 6, 2020: Exhibition closes.
Touring venues and dates to be announced.