The Audacious Artist Salon


The Audacious Artist Salon: A Conversation about Alison Saar’s ‘To Sit Awhile’ Sculpture between Black Artists in the Twin Cities Across Generations.


The Audacious Artist Salon is part of the Audacious Artist Series, a project of Pillsbury House +Theatre that commissioned artists to uplift and celebrate the legacy of Lorraine Hansberry with their artistry.

Special thanks to the artists, past and present who helped to make this film possible.

Artists & Credits


Atlese Robinson is a writer, performer, director, producer, and the founding artistic director of Ambiance Theatre Company. Hailing from Saint Paul, MN by way of Chicago, IL, Atlese grew up to become a storyteller because of the stories of her elders. Atlese’s most recent works include Queen Mother (Red Eye Theater), Conflicted Hearts (Theatre 45), and Black Wall Street: The Burning of Dreamland Theater (MN Fringe). Atlese will soon begin her master’s in Strategic Marketing at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK.



Eshay Brantley, a multidisciplinary artist born southside Chicago, moved to Minneapolis in 2004. Social justice advocate, teaching artist, and mother. Brantley’s artistic work commenced in a ritual-based performance. She is dedicated to nurturing the narratives of Black folks. Over the past ten years, she has worked with Children’s Theater Company, TruArt Speaks, Minneapolis Community Ed, Park Square Theater, Washburn High School, PBS Twin Cities Public Television, The University of Chicago, Guthrie Theater, Tangible Collective, and Women for Political Change. Eshay is committed to the work she does in the Twin Cities arts community and continues to plant seeds for a better future for Black babies.



Beverly Cottman is an interdisciplinary artist creating at the intersections of literary, visual, and performance art. As storyteller, Auntie Beverly, she delivers wisdom of the ages by telling stories, folktales, and fables rooted in African and African-American traditions as well as cultural tales from around the world. Auntie Beverly presents an enthusiastic and interactive storytelling program suitable and adaptable for any age or setting. Her storytelling sessions pass on values, celebrate culture, and invite listeners to participate in the telling. Her workshop sessions support and encourage participants to create compelling narratives and stories that educate, enlighten, and entertain.



Regina Marie Williams is a Penumbra Theater Company Member and a Core Member at Ten Thousand Things Theater. She has performed at the Guthrie Theater, Pillsbury House, Milwaukee Rep, and Ordway Center among others. She is a 2007 McKnight Theater Artist Fellow and received an Ivey Award for her role as Mama Nadi in Mixed Blood Theater’s Ruined. She is City Pages’ Best Actress 2016 and the Minneapolis Star Tribune “Artist of the Year Honorable Mention.”



Austene Van has been a local and national theater professional for 30 years, acclaimed as a gifted, “quietly powerful” and “innovative” actor, director and choreographer. Inextricably woven into her artistic aesthetic is her deep passion to advocate for social justice, equity, and equality, which is why Austene also enjoys her roles as an educator, administrator and community builder through varied disciplines of theater. Austene was a 2013-2014 McKnight Fellowship Award winner, an IVEY Award recipient for the Guthrie Theater’s Trouble in Mind and a Woodie Award nominee for Best Actor and Best Supporting actor for her multiple roles in both Spunk and Colored Museum at the St. Louis Black Rep. She directed Annie at the Ordway Music Theater, which was awarded Best Play in City Pages Best of 2018.


Za’Nia Coleman, Producer



Connor Anderson, Director of Photography is a cinematographer based out of the twin cities. He started out focusing his work on local artists and small businesses. Later in his career, he founded Driven Dreams Media (DDM), an intentionally small creative production agency. Based out of Minneapolis, MN. Through Driven Dreams Media, he now offers high-touch agency services that provide innovative strategies and marketing initiatives to help brands achieve their goals.



Pablo Helm-Hernandez, Assistant Camera: My name is Pablo Helm-Hernandez. I’m a painter, drawer, and videographer. I grew up in Saint Paul and now live in Uptown. I’ve always been inspired by the sheer amount of creativity that exists within the human soul. Our planet is filled with so many amazing examples of creativity, and I love seeing what we come up with. I want to explore my reality and turn my artistic visions into physical interpretations and I love to help others do the same. I have been drawing and painting my whole life and went to MCTC for cinematography. Recently I have been apart of a mural apprenticeship, I really like the idea of public art because anyone can enjoy it and it gives an opportunity to give a voice to a community.



Nia Ross, Assistant Camera describes herself as a wanna-be artist, fallen alien, and off-duty siren but is mostly just a person having a human experience. She graduated from Augsburg University with a degree in film production, theory, and culture and has since worked with notable, local creative organizations and entities such as Tangible Collective, Women for Political Change, Ambience Theatre Company, and The Guthrie Theater. Nia was born in Harvey, Illinois but spent most of her formative years in tiny towns across Northwest Indiana where she fell in love with art of all kinds because nothing else made as much sense. Her current aspirations in life are to be honest and kind–not nice–and to prioritize joy, pleasure, and wealth.


Original music by Queen Drea




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