In 2021, the City of St Cloud worked in partnership with local artist Sarah Drake (herARTS in Action), the Sauk River Watershed District (SRWD), a MN Department of Health Source Water Protection Grant, and the community to launch the Storm Drain Art Program. With over 8,000 storm drains in the City, it is important to generate awareness about protecting our waterways, creating a heathier community and making the connection of storm water to our drinking water source, the Mississippi River. The Storm Drain Art Program complements the City's Adopt-A-Drain Program where residents adopt storm drains to keep them clear of sediment, trash, yard waste and debris to reduce water pollution. Sarah and students painted four murals in 2021, and another four in 2022. One mural is confirmed for 2023, with multiple pending.
about the artist
Sarah Drake, MS, is an award-winning collagist, author-illustrator, and teaching artist in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. She has exhibited her artwork internationally in New York, Moscow, London, Tokyo, Ouagadougou, and Ulaanbaatar. Sarah's artworks have earned her multiple awards, including the Central MN Arts Board Individual Artist Award, VSA Minnesota/Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist with Disability award, and Central MN Arts Board Emerging Artist award. One of her paintings exhibits in the permanent collection at the Marina Tsvetaeva Museum and Cultural Center in Moscow. Sarah has a Master of Science degree in Social Responsibility from St Cloud State University and is the founder/CEO of herARTS in Action. Her work on human rights and social justice topics over the past two decades inspire her artistic creations.
As a teaching artist, Sarah works with all ages and abilities, from kids, youth, adults to seniors in schools, nursing homes, and the community. Paper collage, mixed media, acrylic paint, and writing are the materials of choice. Residencies address social topics through making art. The most popular topics include art for social change, water, human rights, African symbols, MLK Jr & Civil Rights Movement, STEAM, ancestry stories, and identity/self-esteem/confidence. Tell us about the type of residency you'd like!
nanou's promise:a 3 Book series
Book 1: A Journey Beyond Hauling Water
Nanou wants to paint, just as Grandma Kaye does, with a painting feather. But Grandma says Nanou must go to school before learning to paint. “How can I go to school when I spend so much time hauling water?” Nanou wonders. See how she plots a way to get clean water close to home so that she has time to attend school and learn to paint with a feather just like Grandma.
Book 2: A Journey Beyond the ABCs
Come on an adventure while Nanou learns her ABCs. You'll learn about Burkina Faso and the Gurunsi people of Tiébélé. This is the second book in the Nanou's Promise series.
Book 3: A Journey Beyond Painting
Nanou will finally paint with grandma, but there's a lot of art, culture, history, and more to learn along the way. It's not about painting only. Learn to count with Nanou while learning about Gourunsi painting in Tiébélé, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Get your books!
These author-paper collage illustrated 32 page color children’s picture books are inspired by herARTS in Action's work in Burkina Faso for access to clean water, sanitation, and education in the village of Tiébélé.
Other Published work
I am a self-taught artist. I have created art in many forms: writing, paper collage, mixed media, painting, and photography. Because of painful health issues, I can only write and collage now. I combined the two and wrote and illustrated a three-book children's picture book series inspired by my volunteer projects with herARTS in Action in Burkina Faso.
Creating art that shows Black people in a positive light so my biracial daughter can see herself represented in the world around her is what drives me. Whether through visual art or writing, I use my lived experiences to help people better understand those who appear different from them. People often call me a bridge-builder, and that's the lens I use when I create. I don't create just to create or have something to look at but create a dialogue. It could be a viewer's internal monologue, with me, with people they know, or a stranger, but the visuals aren't meant to just stay on the page.
I am a compassionate person, so if I can help people by working with them, I do. I have privilege; therefore, I have a responsibility. When I create art to share people's stories, I don't speak for them, but out and up based on what I've been told is important and permitted to share. All of my work is in collaboration, and ideas are not just my own.
When I work with paper, I prefer ripping to cutting. At first, I ripped because it was easier on my ailing body, but I found that the rips began to have a representation. I was tearing away at the layers of the issues I talk about in my artwork, like racism, water and sanitation access, and women's rights. Once torn, the paper became puzzle pieces of rebuilding and restructuring that imagine what could be if these issues didn't exist. However, there are still scars of the past, which the rugged look of ripped paper in my artwork represents.
The First Lady of Burkina Faso, Sika Bella Kaboré, viewing Sarah's artwork on exhibition in Ouagadougou
Titinga Frédéric Pacéré of Burkina Faso viewing Sarah's artwork on exhibition in Ouagadougou
recognition of funding