Neighborhood association announces 'call for artists' for Valley Middle School mural

Feb. 12—GRAND FORKS — The University Park Neighborhoods organization is inviting local artists to collaborate on a mural project for Valley Middle School. Entries are due Feb. 22.

Plans call for the 4-by-8-foot mural to be installed on the school on May 15.

The group is seeking "skilled individuals to create a mural that will not only beautify the space but also inspire and engage students and community members alike," according to UPN's call for artists announcement. "Our plan is to foster a sense of community through the creation and appreciation of public art."

The selected artist will be notified by Feb. 29.

The artist will be asked for three designs, which align with the theme developed by Valley Middle School students. The designs must be approved by the Grand Forks School Board, said Renee Cardarelle, a UND visiting teacher and faculty advisor to the UPN. "And right now we plan on public input in choosing the final design."

After the mural design is selected, the art will be painted on boards and affixed to the side of the school, Cardarelle said.

Valley Middle School is slated to be razed after a new school building to replace it is constructed to the west of the current site in the next few years. The mural will be removed when the current school is demolished, Cardarelle said, but school officials have not yet determined how it will be used at the new school.

"However, the plan is to save the mural," she said.

The UPN has received $13,000 for murals and other public art in the north Grand Forks neighborhood, Cardarelle said.

A fire hydrant-painting contest last summer drew 16 participants. The UPN is exploring the possibility of hosting another such contest this year.

The proposed mural at Valley Middle School is the first of four mural projects the UPN is working on, Cardarelle said. Funded by grants from the North Dakota Council on the Arts and the Myra Foundation, murals are also planned for local businesses, schools or houses of worship that collaborate with UPN residents on the project.

Jill Westrum, an art instructor with Grand Forks Public Schools, will be working with the selected artist and Valley Middle School students on painting the mural, she said.

"We'll also have some community participation" in painting the mural, Cardarelle said. "We will also be asking the public to help choose the design."

Valley Middle School students will "drive the theme and be involved in the implementation of the artwork," she said.

"The chosen artist will have the opportunity to engage with the school and local community to gather insight, incorporate diverse perspectives, and create a sense of ownership over the artwork," according to the UPN announcement.

Funds have been designated for an artist fee, materials and supplies, mounting the mural, and a public unveiling.

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