NACDI reveals latest Franklin Avenue Mural


The Franklin Avenue LRT stop has a new 3,000-square-foot mural incorporating Ojibwe and Dakota imagery created by artist Bobby Wilson with the help of local Native American youth.

The new artwork is part of the Native American Community Development Institute's (NACDI) Paint the Ave program, and is the second mural that Wilson was commissioned by NACDI to create.

[jump] The first mural Wilson designed, outside the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe building, depicts three leaders of the American Indian community: Charlie Stately, a community activist, Pat Bellanger, owner of Native Visions, and Juanita Espinosa, founder of Native Arts Circle.

Wilson's latest mural is more abstract than the one outside of the Chippewa Tribe building, though there are some realistic elements. "I really love both," says Wilson of realism and abstraction. "It's an expanded technique. I want to show people you can do more than one thing. You have to keep an open mind to see the colors connect." 

Wilson, who is Dakota, also blends elements of Ojibwe and Dakota imagery. "I tried to capture a shared aesthetic between tribes," Wilson says. He's incorporated Ojibwe-inspired floral designs that some of his Ojibwe friends have taught him, as well as Dakota geometric patterns. Wilson also utilizes buffalo imagery. "I don't want to sound corny," Wilson says, "but the bison, or the buffalo, are very important to the Dakota people. 

Wilson was aided in creating the mural from eight youth in grades ranging from 7 to 12. They received stipends for their work, and have been working on the piece for the past two weeks. 

If you want to check out the mural, you can see it right at the LRT train station, just south of Franklin Avenue and on the east side of the tracks. The Paint Ave program is made possible through a partnership between NACDI, the U of M's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), and the American Indian OIC.