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A mural to bring unity

Residents will have the opportunity to personalize a tile at events throughout the summer.

Carly Schmitt loves the idea of using art to foster community. In 2012, she accomplished an ambitious project in Vadnais Heights, and she hopes to do it again in Rosemount.

One Tile One Rosemount kicked off with a celebration June 23 at the Steeple Center. The movers and the shakers of the community sat down and personalized the first of 9,200 tiles that will eventually make up an eight-foot square mural. When complete, the mural will be displayed in the entryway of the Robert Trail Library.

Schmitt said the idea behind the collaborative art project is to engage the entire community in the creation of a community portrait. In this case the portrait is of the bend in a river, more specifically the Mississippi River at Pine Bend.

After being commissioned for the project, Schmitt came up with three sketches she pulled from being in the area. A panel from the Rosemount Area Arts Council chose the river image. The work has been titled “Journey.”

At the kick-off event, RAAC president Jeanne Schwartz said Journey was chosen because it represents what early settlers of the area would have seen when they arrived, giving the painting both current and historical value.

Up close, you will be able to see the individual contributions of Rosemount residents. From afar, though, the tiles will blend into the larger image.

According to Schmitt’s website the concept mirrors an individual’s place in the community and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tiles can be embellished with something simple or a more elaborate design. For some at the kick-off event, inspiration hit fast. Others had to sit for a while before their creative juices flowed.

Schmitt said there’s no right or wrong way to personalize a tile.

To get all of the tiles personalized, the Rosemount Area Arts Council will host tile-signing events throughout the summer. While a $2 donation is suggested, RAAC member John Loch said getting every member of the community engaged in the project is the bigger goal.

Schwartz said the project will cost the arts council $24,000. The First State Bank of Rosemount and the Friends of Robert Trail Library have chipped in to make the project possible. The lion’s share of the cost, though, will be raised through free will donations.

The Rosemount project is smaller than the one in Vadnais Heights. Schmitt said that mural consisted of nearly 12,000 tiles and that Vadnais Heights is a community of 13,000.

“It was ambitious, but I liked it because it was an impossible task,” said Schmitt. “There was a huge learning curve with that project.”

It took nine months but, Schmitt said they were able to get all 12,000 tiles signed in Vadnais Heights.

Schmitt said when the mural went on display just about everyone who painted a tile touched the artwork. She said having a personal investment in the piece brought down the barrier between them and the piece.

“Everyone wanted to touch it. It was so cool to see that when they had a personal investment in the art work, they wanted to feel it,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt said she hopes Rosemount residents who participate will feel the same impact. The Rosemount Area Arts Council hired MRCI Work Source to put the base paint on each of the tiles.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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