Winona Creative Laureate

The Winona Creative Laureate serves as an ambassador for Winona’s creative community and is actively involved in creative pursuits and the creation of work, and maintains an active presence throughout the. The Creative Laureate works in any creative medium or artistic discipline and is able to demonstrate extensive experience and advancement in their field. The Creative Laureate receives a stipend of $1,000 per year, paid annually, and serves a three-year term, commencing upon appointment.

Sarah Johnson - 2020 Creative LaureateSarah Johnson photo

Sarah Johnson was appointed Winona’s first Creative Laureate with a term beginning January 1, 2020. Sarah has lived in Winona for nearly 20 years and has been an active leader in lifting up creativity. Early on she founded and ran the Battle of the Bands for its first five years at Winona Senior High School. She has also had Artist Residencies at WSHS and the Alternative Learning Center and was an organizer in early Handmade Neighborhood annual art sales. She has been an artist in Art Battles and in Chalk On! Earth Day events, and has worked with elementary-age youth as a part of Family Art Day.

She has worked with teens on murals at the Bluff Country Coop and has painted Winona history murals in the bathroom of Ed’s (No Name). Sarah has created 3D pieces for Midwest Music Fest and backdrops for music shows at Ed’s and the Winona Athletic Club. Her band The Old Fashioneds has played for and interacted with students of the Riverway Learning Community. A typical Old Fashioneds show involves some sort of audience engagement beyond dancing, such as coloring sheets or paint-by-number banners created by Sarah. More recent creative activities include booking and hosting live music as a part of a winter Really Livin’ Living Room Series which takes place in her home.

She offers regular workshops on mindfulness and creativity at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, where she also often help lead or create art for the Second Saturday activities. Her most recent creative endeavor was a Third Space funded public art installation, Full Blooms mural on 3rd and Lafayette. For this project, she painted during the week and invited Winonans to engage during the process. That project “completely solidified my desire to be an even stronger creative leader in our community.”