Making Waves in DEI through Art

June 16, 2022

The Duluth Art Institute is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that has been providing visual arts programming to the region for more than 115 years. Under the leadership of current Executive Director, Christina Woods, the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) is using art as a medium for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. Christina is the first Anishinaabe director of the DAI, a member of the Boise Forte Band, serves on the U.S. Senate’s Curatorial Advisory Board, owns a diversity consultancy business, and is a global speaker on building inclusive environments. Her work has transformed the Duluth Art Institute into a celebration of diverse artists and voices, including developing a BIPOC-led board of directors.

BIPOC Artists Header

Image Credit: Sam Zimmerman, “An Elder’s Vision,” acrylic, 2020

The full team at DAI has worked tirelessly to accomplish great strides in diverse, equity, and inclusion work, honoring the cultural confluence in Northeast Minnesota. Efforts to promote DEI include:
  • Decolonizing the operations of the institute
  • Removing barriers for viewers and artists to engage with visual art
    • Scholarships – no questions asked or forms to fill out
    • Absent narratives
    • BIPOC artist show and teach classes
  • Create network for artists to be informed of opportunities to show work, professional development
  • DEI workshop using art: Commission Your Bias
  • Using a community panel to select bodies of work that amplify erased, overwritten, and unremembered narratives
  • Engaging with AmeriCorps VISTA with the goal to disrupt poverty and racism
  • Developing a deeply rooted understanding of implicit bias among board and staff
  • BIPOC artists page to amplify BIPOC artists in the region and state. The DAI is honored to connect you to the amazing BIPOC artists in the Northeast Minnesota region: change-makers, connectors, truth-tellers, stabilizers, mobilizers. Click here to meet local BIPOC Artists.
    • Highlights the wide range of talent
    • Amplifies art sales and commission opportunities
    • Highlights bodies of work for gallery inquiries
  • Serving on two community councils that seek to disrupt food and housing insecurity with art as an intersection
    • These planning initiatives include a CDC Social Determinants of Health Accelerator planning process
    • and a soon-to-be-launched 12-18 month Local Energy Action Plan process with the Department of Energy.
  • Relationship-building with 114 arts organizations statewide and serving on two state appointed boards and one national board.

Learn more about the Duluth Art Institute


The Duluth Art Institute enriches daily life with dynamic, innovative visual arts programming that upholds excellence and promotes inclusive community participation.


Bring art to, and inspire art in, everyone.

The Duluth Art Institute nurtures the development of local artists to capture the modern human experience through their work. They then create opportunities for artists to share what they’ve created in an inclusive environment — a place where people can come together to discuss their own perspectives and interpretations. Also, through encouraging the creation of modern, timely and compelling art, the DAI is enabling the archiving of moments in mediums that will carry the present-day human experiences into the future.

We are the premier arts organization in the region, providing access to both high-quality arts education for artists and the community, and professional spaces that exhibit rotating series of artwork. We advocate for artist and visual art practices while serving to showcase exemplary bodies of work by and for all.

The Duluth Art Institute Summary of offerings:

  • BIPOC webpage
  • Commission Your Bias Workshop
  • Free professional development classes
  • Teaching opportunities
  • Art classes
  • Low rent studio space
  • Open Studios with professional artists
  • Accessible Curator
  • Open Call for Art
  • Arrowhead Regional Biennial
  • Robust art exhibitions and opportunities to meet artists
  • Online Gallery space using the app Smartify
  • Online art store: Art in Bloom
  • Provide robust social media marketing of classes and exhibiting artists
  • Connections to other galleries and art fellowships
  • Monthly newsletter with grant and fellowship opportunities for artists
  • Membership benefits

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Commitment to Change is a collaborative effort between Lake Superior College and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce to build a more inclusive and diverse community through education, resources, opportunities, and partnerships. This robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource guide has been curated from experts across the Twin Ports to share with your organizations in honor of Juneteenth.

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