By Molly Rosenblatt

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s more to see in the St. Paul skyways.

The first public art installation in the skyways was unveiled Monday. The exhibit focuses on, and celebrates, Minnesota immigrants and their history.

Spanning four skyways in downtown St. Paul, artist Nancy Ann Coyne unveiled her exhibit — something that, for her, hits close to home.

skyway art 3 St. Paul Unveils Skyway Art Celebrating Lives And Stories Of Immigrants

(credit: CBS)

“My family grew up in Europe, and would have been killed in Europe, and massacred during the Holocaust, and also massacred by the first period of the persecution of Jews, had we not fled,” she said.

It’s about safe haven and a country shaped and built by immigrants through the power of photographs. Coyne’s goal is to bringing us together, instead of dividing us, by celebrating immigrants.

The art not only celebrates countless countries of origin, but at least four diffferent religions — Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism

skyway art 2 St. Paul Unveils Skyway Art Celebrating Lives And Stories Of Immigrants

(credit: CBS)

St. Paul City Council Member Rebecca Noecker’s family also came to the U.S. as Russian Jewish immigrants. She feels the installation couldn’t come at a better time.

“For me, it really feels personal to have a tribute to those people who sacrificed so much and who really built our city,” Noecker said. “Especially today, when the rhetoric is so exclusive and, frankly, so un-American about what has really built this country.”

The art makes the skyway feel more like an art gallery, with each piece showing an immigrant along with their story.

Restaurant owner Marla Jadoonannan immigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad in 1980 in hopes for a better life, and she found just that.

skyway art 1 St. Paul Unveils Skyway Art Celebrating Lives And Stories Of Immigrants

(credit: CBS)

“I realized life is too short,” she said. “I always wanted to own a restaurant and that’s what I did. I came home one day and said to my husband, ‘That’s what I’m doing,’ and he asked me if I was crazy. And I said, ‘you already knew that when you married me.'”

Her dream became a reality — Jadoonan’s restaurant has been opened for 12 years — called Marla’s Caribbean Cusine, in South Minneapolis.

The installation fills the skyways crossing Minnesota Street twice at both Fifth and Sixth Streets in the Alliance Bank Center, U.S. Bank Center, Town Square, and the Securian Buildings.

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