Council honors noted artist who died in car crash

Kirk Washington Jr.

Kirk Washington Jr., a beloved local artist and community organizer who died in a car accident April 4, was honored with a special resolution Friday at the Minneapolis City Council meeting.

The resolution noted that Washington, a fifth-generation Minnesotan, spoke the “gospel of the Northside.”

“Kirk Washington Jr. told his story and the stories of the forgotten, the oppressed and marginalized with verve,” said Council Member Blong Yang (Ward 5), reading from the resolution.

Washington, 41, was one of 12 poets who contributed to the poem, “One Minneapolis: A City in Verse,” which was read during Mayor Betsy Hodges’ inauguration.

As part of a collaboration between Intermedia Arts and the City of Minneapolis, Washington worked with city staff to improve digital access for low-income people and communities of color. He lived in the city’s Harrison neighborhood.

He worked in a variety of mediums as an artist, including theater, music, design, painting, photography and sculpture, among other things.

He was also a featured artist in the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Made Here urban walking gallery. The Journal interviewed him about his work in August 2014.

A post on the Intermedia Arts website reflected on his vision: “He believes the collective imagination is the path that art can offer the world. He also believes this genius happens when life societies and their citizens realize and lean into their brokenness. It is there where the wounds are that we have the highest chance to heal.”

Washington is survived by his wife Aster Nebro and daughters Azalea and Keah.

(Below: The Journal video interview with Washington.)