About the Artist

Ryan Stopera (he/him/his) is a mixed race, Chinese American photographer, filmmaker, producer and educator based in Minneapolis. He has worked with community organizations for over 15 years including with individuals experiencing homelessness, children and families, and foster care youth, as well as in program development and affordable housing development.  He’s the recipient of the 2018 Artist Neighborhood Partnership with CURA at the University of Minnesota, the 2019 MN State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant, the 2021 MSAB Artist Initiative Grant, and he was a 2020 Creative Community Fellow with National Art Strategies.

He is a Founder and Co-Director of Free Truth Media, a media company using art as a tool for liberation with Adja Gildersleve.  Ryan is also part of the team at Public Functionary, an arts organization supporting grassroots cultural organizing and production across disciplines through the development of highly visible and resourced spaces that lead to creative collaborations and economic opportunities for early career and emerging artists.

About the Artwork + Radical Rest

"I chose a film photo from the Boundary Waters because there is an analog feel to it.  I pushed the grain in this image to appear aged, and to evoke a feeling of the timelessness of the wilderness there.  Even before the pandemic and our constant isolated doom scrolling, we as humans had gotten so far away from our connection to the earth.  Spending time in the BWCA reminds me of Indigeneity, of our duty to protect the land, and of a way of living that we have forgotten but can still embrace.  The BWCA is such a special place it is beyond description.  The vast undeveloped landscape, the water so clean you can drink it, and the transcendent quiet can only truly be experienced in it's truth by being in it.  As someone who spends a lot of time looking at screens, taking time to appreciate the Boundary Waters is a gift that I never lose gratitude for.

We all have a role in our work towards liberation, but in order to create the change we all want to see in the world we have to create space for rest.  Although watching Netflix or spending time with friends in the city allows for rejuvenation and joy, the profound mental, physical, and spiritual healing that comes from spending time deep in nature is unique.  As Minnesotans we are lucky to have the Boundary Waters within a 6 hour drive of the Twin Cities.  If community members are able, I encourage everyone to take the time to explore the BWCA, to sleep on the beach, to breathe, to meditate, to listen to the sound of the wind and the water and the loons and be present in each moment.  You will return with a clearer sense of yourself and your place in the world."