Billboards near State Fair will champion Minnesota artists and reproductive freedom

By: - June 20, 2022 6:00 am

Destiny Davison’s “Choice is precious” was chosen as a winner of a recent contest and will be featured on a billboard near the State Fair.  

The leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision to undo Roe v. Wade brought a hot flash of relevancy to the billboard-based work of Kelly Searle and Kristin Brietzke.

In 2019, the St. Paul couple founded the Minnesota Billboard Project — a grassroots effort to combat anti-abortion billboards across the metro area with reproductive rights-focused billboards created by Minnesota artists. 

After a voting and census-themed collaboration with Ramsey County to reach youth and LGBTQIA+ audiences in 2020, and a smaller effort focused on racial justice in 2021, the abortion rights project is back this year.

Fresh off the Supreme Court leak and the introduction of a Texas-style bill that would ban and criminalize abortion in Minnesota, Searle and Brietzke say combatting the prolific stream of anti-abortion billboards that blanket the state’s highways feels more important than ever.

“If Roe v. Wade gets overturned, Minnesota is going to be the only state of its surrounding states that is going to continue to offer abortion services,” Brietzke says.

It’s incredibly important to make sure that we’re supporting abortion providers,” Searle adds.

By day, Brietzke is a statistician working for the state of Minnesota, while partner Searle is an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. 

Previous years’ efforts placed billboards in St. Paul, Duluth and Mankato. They chose five of the artists they’ve worked with before to create designs for this year’s theme. 

The designs were posted to the Project’s Facebook and Instagram pages, where the public voted on their favorites by liking or reacting to submissions that feature reproductive justice, miscarriage awareness, pro-abortion rights and inclusive sex education messaging. 

After tallying up reaction counts and getting the input of a diverse executive panel, two winners were announced: KT Lindemann’s “Everybody deserves the right care” and Destiny Davison’s “Choice is precious.” 

KT Lindemann’s “Everybody deserves the right care” was another winner and will also be on a billboard.

The billboards will be near the State Fair and also at Maryland Avenue and Dale Street in St. Paul and be up from August through Labor Day.

All of the donations made to the Minnesota Billboard Project — whether direct or through their newly launched store — go directly to paying the artists $350 for their submission and covering the costs to put the billboards up. Anything that’s left will be donated to reproductive health care providers across the state.

“The whole reason we’re doing this is to provide community support for people who are impacted by these issues,” Brietzke said.

Searle added, “I don’t think there’s anything we like more than when people post selfies, pictures, and appreciation [for the billboards].”

Here are the other three entrants: 

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Cinnamon Janzer
Cinnamon Janzer

Cinnamon Janzer is a Minneapolis-based freelance journalist dedicated to covering lesser-told stories across Middle America.