A brief background: Over the summer of 2016, the Youth Arts Collaborative (YAC) partnered with Audubon Minnesota (a nonprofit focused on clean water for the preservation of birds and wildlife), to create an educational mural made possible by a grant from Audubon Minnesota. The teens, with a lead artist/educator and mentors, designed and executed a mural addressing issues surrounding water runoff pollution in our waterways that ends up in the Mississippi River.
The goal of this project was to communicate through visual art what it means to live in a River City, where protecting our clean water resources for birds and people is a responsibility and a way of life. Audubon MN’s Outreach Coordinator assisted in the project’s design, educating the artists on clean water conservation and environmental stewardship with a special focus on birds and plants native to Minnesota. The mural was completed in October of 2016.
The mural is located at the intersection of 28th Avenue South and 42nd Street East in South Minneapolis across from local business such as Buster’s on 28th, Angry Fish Bicycle Shop & Coffee Bar, and Baker’s Wife. Positioned on a major bus route, and blocks away from a local high school, the mural site receives plenty of foot, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic. This project serves as a “call to action” for the community to make changes in their everyday behaviors that will better protect and conserve the clean water resources we share with birds and other native wildlife.
The design features a cityscape morphing into farmlands then into wetlands with birds and wildflowers native to Minnesota. City imagery represents Minneapolis’ status as a River City located on the great Mississippi River. Coupled with a giant drain leading into the river, the city scene urges the viewers to reflect on how we affect and can better protect our clean water supply. The farmlands, signifying the concerns surrounding runoff related to the agricultural industry, are juxtaposed with the forests and wetlands, which provide habitats for birds and wildlife. These habitats are imperative to a flourishing ecosystem, and need clean water to survive. A rain garden near the city informs the roles soil and plant life play in clean water; the soil filtering the impurities out of the water while feeding the plants, which in turn provide food, shelter, and oxygen for birds and wildlife. There are also people depicted as engaging in eco-friendly activities. To the left of the mural is a sidebar explaining to the community the importance of clean water using statistics and tips on becoming clean water friendly.