Closing Plenary Session

Sunday, June 16, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
The Artist at Community Intersections

The Closing Keynote features two renown artists—2019 Johnson Fellow and theatremaker Mark Valdez and rapper Christian Parrish Takes Gun (aka Supaman), who will explore how artists engage culture and heritage to bridge divides and strengthen community pride.

Supaman, a Native American dancer and innovative hip hop artist, spreads a message of hope, pride and resilience through his unique fusion of traditional and modern culture. Valdez, theater artist and cultural organizer, uses theater and creative tools to address community needs and highlight community voices for more than two decades. Join us in the Twin Cities to hear from these innovative artists!

 Our thanks to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support of the Closing Plenary session.


Christian Parrish
Billings, Montana

As a member of the “Apsaalooke Nation”, Supaman makes his home on the Crow reservation in Montana. “Supaman” Is Christian Takes Gun Parrish, a Native American dancer and innovative hip hop artist who has dedicated his life to empowering and spreading a message of hope, pride and resilience through his original art form. He has been the recipient of the 2017 MTV VMA award for “Best Fight Against the System”! He is also a Nammy “Native American Music Award” winner, “North American Indigenous Image Award winner, and 7 “Tunney Award winner. He was awarded The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award in Canada for best video and was voted MTV’s new Artist of the Week! His 2018 nominations brought him home awards for Best Hip Hop Album and Best Producer for the Indigenous Music Awards. His latest video’s titled “Prayer Loop Song” and “Why” both have gone viral and have received millions of views on youtube and facebook which has put him in high demand touring extensively throughout the U.S.A and internationally. He has performed for Google at the Google headquarters in San Francisco. He recently was asked to audition for America’s Got Talent and the Broadway play Hamilton. He is currently working with Taboo from the multi grammy award winning group “Black Eyed Peas” looking to complete a project in the coming months.

Mark Valdez
Los Angeles, California

Mark Valdez is an itinerant artist, cultural organizer, and consultant who partners with communities, organizations, civic institutions, and others, using theater and creative tools to address community needs and to lift up community voices and stories.

Mark began his practice as the Associate Artistic Director for Cornerstone Theater Company, a Los Angeles-based ensemble creating play in/with/for communities in Los Angeles and across the nation. From 2007-2014 Valdez was the Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), a national community of artists and organizations committed to collaborative creation.

Mark often consults and partners with institutions interested in engagement and creative community development. Clients and partners that include Americans for the Arts, Opera America, Center for Performance and Civic Practice, EMC Arts, LISC, Cuyahoga County Arts Council, Los Angeles' Music Center, the Irvine Foundation, NRDC, and Arizona State University.

With the support from AFTA’s Johnson Fellowship for Community Transformation, Mark is creating “Exiled in America,” a new performance piece looking at housing policies through the lives and experiences of those living in low-budget resident motels. The multi-year project aims to shift the needle on local housing policies in the communities of: Buffalo, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Venice Beach, and Phoenix.