This week, well-known Australian artist Guido van Helten will begin
painting at the Ardent Mills grain silos located on the Minnesota River in the Old Town district at the heart of downtown Mankato.

The project was initiated as a commission and community fundraising effort by CityArt, a joint group made up of the City Center Partnership and the Twin Rivers Council for the Arts.

After having finished works on Outback water towers in a droughtstricken area of his home state of Queensland in Australia, in Poland, Jordan, and Canada, van Helten arrived back from working in Portugal to fresh snows in Minnesota ready to get underway on this new work.

Water conservation has been a recurring theme this year as the artist
has worked on the two 120 foot tall water tower projects in drought-ridden Outback Australia, as well as in the Middle East with aid
organizations USAID and Mercycorp.

After two visits and community consultations, the artist has finalized
the design and van Helten is preparing to begin the installation phase
of the project in Mankato.

The silos are 122 feet tall and the design will able to be viewed from multiple viewing points along the river and throughout the city.

Once the artwork is complete, the mural in Mankato will stand as the latest installment in the continuation of a connected narrative throughout the Midwest celebrating identity and regional stories.

In recent years, the artist has installed celebrated works in Faulkton, South Dakota and in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The artist visited Mankato in September 2018 and returned this year
for another visit to get to know local residents and to understand
the history and narrative of the area prior to creating a design for
this major public artwork.

The concept is a summary of experiences, observations, and discoveries in color and culture in Mankato utilizing the Education Day at the Mahkato Pow Wow as a backdrop for the photographs on which the design of the mural is based.

This design brings together the shared ideals of community, diversity, and inclusion; and it pays respect to history while
encouraging a positive dialogue on the future identity of the Mankato
area.

Through consultation with various Native and non-Native leaders and community representatives, the artist worked with local photographer Sara Hughes to capture images that would illustrate community diversity, inclusion, and participation. By experiencing the shared cultural experiences at the Mahkato Wacipi, van Helten found inspiration for the design at the Education Day.

The mural will be dynamic, with a comprehensible community focus
that will echo the surrounding landscape and architecture. It is the intent for each viewer to derive their own meaning from the work; and it will ideally be an invitation for a fresh, direct and friendly dialogue to occur in the surrounding region as a result.

Statement from the artist:
“I’m pleased to be beginning this project here in Mankato. After quite
some time planning and thinking about this piece, I have found so
much inspiration in the area and have had experiences that support
my ideas for quite possibly one of my largest artworks to date.”
Statement from Twin Rivers Council Director, Noelle Lawton
“The movement and spirit of this piece speaks to unity and
connection. It’s a simple and beautiful message for today. Our hope is
that it will spark conversation and invite people to see Mankato from a new perspective.”

Statement from Ardent Mills Director:
“We are honored our elevator will serve as the canvas for a mural that
welcomes all those who live, work and visit our community. We are
pleased to support the mural project and can’t wait to see it all come
to life.”