USD students latest to join Alley Art

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
(Photo Contributed) University of South Dakota students and their professor recently visited Le Mars and created a mural to be added to the Main Street Alley Art project. Pictured with the mural are, from left, USD professor Amber Hansen, Tasha Determan, Kierra Determan, Corissa Petrich, Jenae Porter, Ashley Zimmer, Natalie Bremers, Jessilyn Bean, Ingrid Cho, and Marina Kremer.

LE MARS — A local group of college students are the most recent artists to add to the Le Mars Main Street Alley Art program.

A group of nine University of South Dakota students visited Le Mars in April and painted the mural “Water is Life.”

According to USD professor Amber Hansen, the inspiration for the design is centered around “mni wiconi.” It is the Lakota phrase that translates to “Water is Life.”

“By painting this mural, we hope to not only bring awareness to this earth’s state of being, but also to share ideas, symbols and beliefs from local indigenous perspectives,” Hansen said. “The mural is dedicated to water protectors around the world and is an encouraging reminder to honor the earth and support sustainable practices.”

According to Hansen the swirling aesthetic of the piece is inspired by Oscar Howe’s “Sioux Seed Player.” Howe, a Lakota artist who created work in the 1970s, is remembered for his dynamic style that depicts stories from his culture while breaking out of the constraints set upon indigenous artists of his time by the art market, Hansen added.

“In the center is a turtle, representing the indigenous creation story by a tenacious turtle that carries the land and sky upon its back. The turtle represents the earth which is surrounded by a timeline, divided and organized in a cyclical pattern — once again inspired by Oscar Howe,” Hansen said.

The piece can be found on the east wall of the Frontier Communications building, in the alley behind the Brown’s Theater and Century 21 Real Estate.

“I think it is great to have groups like the USD students create artwork for our public art project. One of the goals of the Alley Art project is to involve the broader community in the creation of the artwork. This is a great example,” said Rich Ziettlow, Main Street Alley Art Organizer.

With this group of USD students, Ziettlow said Alley Art now has had 115 different people — 39 professional artists and 76 interested volunteers — participate in the creation of alley art murals.

Currently there are 88 pieces of artwork installed on 40 buildings in eight downtown alleys.

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