When Dr. Tami Jollie-Trottier (BF’16) decided to open a community art space, she aimed for the heart of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota, where she grew up.
Generation Art sits two doors down from Seven Stone Center for Behavioral Health & Healing, Jollie-Trottier’s private practice clinic in the Belcourt Shopping Mall. What’s more, her entrepreneurial parents once owned a successful supermarket in the mall, and her clinic is in an office where her mother once worked. Grounded in her own history, Jollie-Trottier has created a unique intergenerational space for others.
“It’s not a place for therapy,” Jollie-Trottier says of Generation Art. “There are no direct services. It’s a place where people can heal through art and intergenerational, multigenerational interactions. We have elders connecting with kids. We have artists, poets and sculptors volunteering their time to teach classes and workshops.” Generation Art prioritizes inclusivity and respect for differences in spirituality, gender, culture and other identities.
In the years between her childhood on the reservation and her return to establish her practice, Jollie-Trottier studied, traveled and worked as a research psychologist. Her travels inspired Generation Art’s look, which brings the feel of an urban coffee shop to rural North Dakota. Beauty and safety are crucial to create a welcoming space for trauma-informed community art. The low lighting fosters intimacy, the scents promote emotional regulation and curtains on the windows heighten the space’s sense of security. It’s all intentional.
Before Generation Art had fully opened, friends and neighbors peered through its glass doors in curiosity. After it opened, two enthusiastic teachers started an art night. They brought in their own materials and donated their time to teach the community. Enthusiasm spread widely: Generation Art’s seasonal skirt-making workshop filled within hours of being announced. It inspired other community artists of all ages to offer classes teaching traditional skills and crafts that recognize and reclaim their heritage.
Because Generation Art is an all-ages space, Jollie-Trottier can work near her entire family. In fact, it was her eldest daughter who came up with the name Generation Art. “It’s about focusing on the strengths, healing and gifts of Native people,” Jollie-Trottier explains. “It’s about a new generation, a new time for us.”