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August 24, 2001

Millenium Mural Celebrates St. Croix River
By Jolene Bracy
UW-RF News Bureau

The St. Croix Valley's cultural and environmental diversity and contemporary life at the turn of the millennium is being celebrated through a new wall mural at UW-River Falls.

Artists of various age, cultures and lifestyles recently united to create a mural at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Chalmer Davee Library. The artwork, "Find Your Dream," characterizes contemporary life and celebrates cultural and environmental diversity in the St. Croix Valley.

The mixed team of 18 muralists included middle school students in grades six through nine from River Falls and Ellsworth, area artists, residents and UW-RF faculty, staff and students.

The mural, which measures 7.5-feet high by 18-feet wide, depicts and celebrates life in the St. Croix Valley region at the turn of the millennium, said Chalmer Davee Library Director Christina Baum. The mural invites viewers to consider the importance of the environment and dreams, and to serve as a visual time capsule of life at the start of the new millenium.

"We wanted a broad focus, a representation of a living time capsule," says Collection Development Librarian Curtis LeMay.

Involving a larger community‹the entire 7,500 square miles of the St. Croix Valley‹follows in the footsteps of another project: a wall-sized mural of the Kinnickinnic River painted on the Halmark Store in River Falls. This pristine waterway that runs through River Falls and the campus was commemorated during the city's 150th anniversary in 1998.

In "Find Your Dream" the center of the circle includes images signifying the 12 months of the new millennium. The circle of life symbols are arranged in a clock style, starting with a dream catcher, and continuing with a robin, the humanities, a white-tailed deer, trillium, monarch butterflies, mourning doves, a Peregrine falcon, a gardener, a cow, wood violets and honey bees. Flora and fauna indigenous to the St. Croix Valley and Wisconsin are hidden in the border.

The generosity and creativity of the participants made it possible to form a single image from 18 people, says art associate Professor Lynn Jermal. "I was inspired by everyone¹s enthusiasm and energy."

Project participants were UW-RF faculty and staff members Jermal, LeMay and Rose Rude; UW-RF students Sara Allen of Hudson, Jodi Kruse of Fridley, Minn., Jaime Livermore of Hudson, and Johnson Vang of St. Paul; Ellsworth Middle School student Rebecca Pollak; Hudson Middle School student Adam Selon; River Falls Middle School students Clint Robins, Colin Trechter and Jeff Trechter; and St. Croix Valley residents Joe Frost, Harold Henson, Ben Knutson, Tiffany Meyer, Kim Orth and Cree Orth.

Pollak, a seventh grader, thought the project was fun because she could do art every day. " I liked it because it didn¹t feel like the adults were making all the decisions. We all worked together," explains Pollak.

The mural will be unveiled at a community celebration on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in the Chalmer Davee Library Breezeway. Grant participants and the River Falls Latino Student Organization will sponsor the event. A presentation about the mural project will be followed by a slide show titled, "How American Mural Movements Grew Consciously Out of the Mexican Mural Movement," by WPA/Depression Mural Scholar UW-Stout Professor Sue Beckham.

The River Falls Art Education program, St. Croix Valley Artists, UW-RF Teen University and Chalmer Davee Library sponsored the project. The "Millennium Mural" was funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Otto Bremer Foundation and with matching contributions from UW-River Falls.

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