Next City Council meeting will decide fate of Arts for Science mural project

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The Arts for Science mural project being proposed by Resident Arts is slated as a resolution on Monday’s City Council meeting and will most likely be voted on by the council that evening.

Since the project will be a resolution on the council agenda, it won’t have to go through multiple readings and can be voted on right away, said Elise Buchheit, the Program Specialist for the Office of Cultural Affairs.

Resident Arts, a local nonprofit, received a $10,000 grant from the Union of Concerned Scientists to construct public artwork highlighting the importance of science. Plans were altered for the mural after a few setbacks. It was originally supposed to be located on a retaining wall on Old 63, but is now proposed for a tunnel wall at the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail under Elm Street.

Another meeting was held Wednesday by Resident Arts and the Office of Cultural Affairs for further mural discussion. During the meeting, Madeleine LeMieux, the founder of Resident Arts, answered questions concerning the new location and design along with Buchheit.

The design has not been changed artistically, only slightly altered to fit the new wall dimensions. The previous wall was 381 feet long, while the new location is smaller at 109 feet.

The design includes a quote by Marshall McLuhan reading, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew.” McLuhan is a futurist and new media specialist.

Inside the block letters of the quote are small “fact bubbles” containing facts on how to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint.

These bubbles include facts such as:

• “Recycling reduces the cost of waste disposal, reduces pollution, and preserves natural resources.”

• “Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers in home and community gardens can protect soil health and stream water quality.”

• “A tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon each year. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. Planting new trees to replace those cleared for industry and farming will help reduce atmospheric carbon levels.”

While a couple residents raised questions regarding the possible political message from a wall with environmental elements, LeMieux said the facts included had been vetted by the Hinkson Creek Restoration Project, the Columbia Office of Sustainability, the Columbia Legal Department and the Union of Concerned Scientists to ensure the facts are accurate and not political. No part of the design was mandated by the funder, according to the Resident Arts website.

A few people voiced artistic differences, but the mural was met with overall support. Carol Brown, an attendee, said public art is an important component in people investing in their community. She said she supports the project.

“Public art matters. People support the community when the community looks nice,” said Brown.

LeMieux said Resident Arts staff hopes for immediate approval on Monday so work on the mural can be started immediately, as it must be completed in above 50 degree weather before the end of the year, when the grant expires. If passed, a community painting day is tentatively planned for Oct. 6, where the public can paint blocks of the mural’s background.

Updates on the project and further information can be found on the Resident Arts website.

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