Works Progress: Everyday Ways

Everyday Ways from Works Progress on Vimeo.


After meeting Mankwe Ndosi for the first time, we knew that our process for creating this video would be different than the others in the series. Not only is Mankwe the first musician we’ve featured, she’s also a deep thinker, a community organizer (with Hope Community) and a collaborator. For her, art isn’t something made only in a studio or on a stage, but is integrated into the everyday. She sees art everywhere, and is always in the midst of an act of creation. This isn’t to say that her artistic output is in anyway compromised; I’m still floored whenever I listen to her latest album, Science and Spirit (watch this video for “Smile”).

As we got to know her and her work, we decided together that our approach would be one of collaborative improvisation, a practice that Mankwe draws from in all of her work, be it theater, dance, spoken word or vocal composition (watch her improvise in this MN Original video). We agreed that starting with an interview, as we had with previous videos, didn’t feel right. Instead we would simply spend time together and see what emerged.

Over the course of a month, Mankwe invited us to see her everyday ways: a performance at the Cedar Cultural Center; a late night meeting with her fellow Hope Community organizers; an early morning breakfast with friends–organizer Irna Landrum and poet Louis Alemayehu; a quiet moment of reflection at one of her favorite coffee shops–Pow Wow Grounds; and a meeting with her frequent musical collaborator Medium Zach (who produced Science and Spirit). We were humbled by the ways that Mankwe opened up her process and her community to us, and tried to honor that by actively participating in these activities as much as we were able.

Throughout all of this, Mankwe sings and draws and thinks and shares. She influences and is influenced by others. After stitching together our first draft of the video, Mankwe responded with the poem that you hear in the video. When woven together, all of these threads create a rich fabric of joy, fellowship, struggle and creativity.

Reflecting on the process, Mankwe writes, “This video gave me the opportunity to shine a light on and honor my amazing community of artists, organizers, healers, strategists, and peace and justice workers–to show some of the threads I weave together to make a meaningful, creative life. I’m excited at the results.”

We are too. How is art a part of your everyday ways?

For more of Mankwe’s work, check out her website, find her latest album Science and Spirit at independent record stores, or see her perform live in


Shanai Matteson and Colin Kloecker are Collaborative Directors of Works Progress, an artist-led public design studio. Works Progress creates collaborative art and design projects that inspire, inform and connect; catalyzing relationships across creative and cultural boundaries; and providing new platforms for public engagement. You can find them on Twitter at @works_progress.