by Dennis Dalman
The artistic visions of 395 artists will come together in a vast mural at the Gallery Saint Germain in downtown St. Cloud.
Artists from throughout the greater St. Cloud area, including Sartell, contributed one by one to the ambitious project. All of the creators suffer from disabilities of one sort or another, and for some of them, participation in the mural project was their first artistic endeavor.
The public will have a chance to see the huge mural from now until Oct. 12 at Gallery Saint Germain, which is located right across the street from the Paramount Theater in downtown St. Cloud. The title of the exhibit is the “Minnesota Disability Mural Project.”
There will be a reception from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10
The gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Four months in the making, the mural project is sponsored by VSA Minnesota, a state organization whose mission is to create the conditions in which people with disabilities can learn through, participate in and have access to the arts. The state organization is affiliated with the VSA Accessibility wing of the John F. Kennedy Center’s Education Department in Washington, D.C.
Each budding artist was given a 1-foot by 1-foot “tile” of masonite. The tile could be used for a painting, a drawing or a glued collage. Since June, 395 tiles have been created, and all of them were hung on wires to comprise the giant collage at Gallery Saint Germain. The tiles later will be taken to Minneapolis and combined with a similar massive project done by people with disabilities who live in that area.
Some of the participants, at first, were stumped. The maker of each tile was asked to express in visual terms the question, “What does access to the arts mean to you?” But it wasn’t long before ideas “clicked” and participants began to paint, draw and cut out collages. Magazine photos featuring food, music-makers and animals were popular choices as things that made the creators happy.
Besides VSA Minnesota, other contributors to the project are Arts Access, the Paramount Theater and grants from the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Legacy Grant program authorized by taxpayers and the National Endowment for the Arts.