What is the Central Identity Project?

In a nutshell: Green Central school youth and Central neighborhood residents will work together with artist Greta McLain in a series of community workshops and forums to create a monumental mural on the outside of the Green Central School.

Ever drive up 35th street in South Minneapolis on your way to 35W and wish you had something to look at other than a big, drab, brown brick school? This is your chance to fund a project that will not only brighten your daily commute, but will also bring light and art into the lives of Central neighborhood residents, 700+ elementary and middle school students and the South Minneapolis community at large!

Beginning in June 2013, under the guidance of artist Greta McLain and in partnership with Minneapolis Community Education, the Minneapolis Public Schools and Central Neighborhood organizations, Green Central School youth and Central neighborhood residents will come together to create a large scale mural (2000+ square feet!) through a series of 10 community paint workshops.

With the main project goals of providing a positive outlet for youth, combating graffiti and training youth and residents in using art as a vehicle to address community issues, the Central Identity Mural Project will be one of the first of its kind and scale in Minneapolis. This high profile mural will reflect the history and culture of the school and neighborhood and will promote a positive Central neighborhood identity.

Innovative and New:

Rather than painting directly on the wall, McLain will be using the indirect parachute cloth method developed by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and never used before in a Minneapolis community mural project. Using a lightweight synthetic material, the mural design will be partitioned into various sections to be painted at the different community art workshops and to later be installed on the building.

This technique will allow for all to participate- most notably our elders, children, residents with disabilities, and others who are traditionally left out of projects like these due to their physical limitations. With the introduction of this method, this truly will be a project created by and for the whole community.

In addition, McLain will be taking on apprentice artists who will have the opportunity to learn the technique through this project- meaning more spectacular and long lasting murals for the city of Minneapolis!

Project Timeline:

Starting in May, McLain will begin work with a group of middle school Mural Leaders from Green Central school. This mural crew will be gathering information on Central neighborhood- taking pictures, researching history at Hosmer Library and speaking with neighborhood residents and community organizations. They will then synthesize all of this information into a preliminary sketch to present to our Mural Board, made up of community organization representatives, community residents, and Minneapolis Public Schools staff.

After the sketch is approved, the fun work will begin! During June, July and August in a series of 10 community paint workshops scheduled at different sites throughout the Central neighborhood, people will come together to talk, eat, dance, and PAINT(!) together on the panels that will eventually be put together to make the largest mural in the Central neighborhood (and yes, YOU are invited too!).

In late August, installation will begin with McLain and her apprentice artists. In early September, come join us for our official unveiling ceremony and bask in what you have helped to create!

Who Benefits From This Project:

  • Middle school youth from Green Central school who get to exercise their leadership and art skills while doing something positive for the community.
  • Middle school youth from all over the Minneapolis Public Schools district who will have the chance to join in on the fun after their summer school day at Ramsey Middle School.
  • Central neighborhood residents, who will together create a piece of art that will reflect their diverse backgrounds, histories and cultures to be seen by generations to come while enjoying opportunities to connect with their neighbors.
  • Green Central School staff and students of all ages who will be inspired daily by seeing the mural as they arrive at school.
  • Aspiring South Minneapolis artists who will have the chance to apprentice under the multi-talented Greta McLain.
  • The city of Minneapolis and you- all of us get to enjoy the beauty of the completed mural!

Key Players:

Greta McLain, Community Artist

Lead artist for the project, Greta McLain has 10 years of mural making experience. She earned her BA from the University of California Davis, her MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has traveled around South America and Europe studying new and traditional mural techniques. She has created painted and mosaic murals throughout the Twin Cities and made murals in Argentina, Mexico, France, Memphis and Philadelphia. She is currently the only muralist working with the indirect parachute cloth mural technique in Minnesota and has worked on numerous projects of comparable scale to the proposed Green Central mural. 

She has facilitated various projects in the Minneapolis Public Schools including murals at Windom, Ramsey IFAC, El Colegio, Andersen Elementary and South High School. She has lead a number of graffiti abatement projects and strongly believes in and has been witness to the positive results of providing a productive outlet for youth creativity. McLain was awarded 'El Fuerte de Barragan' for Artistic and Community Excellence for the mural Construyendo el Futuro with artist Melina Slobodian in December 2009, Ensenada, Argentina and was a recent participant in the Bush fellowship program, Creative Community Leadership Institute. 

She just completed a large mural in the Green Central Cafeteria with middle school youth- come by and check it out!

Minneapolis Community Education

Minneapolis Community Education (MCE) exists to engage youth and adults in community-driven learning and enrichment opportunities.  It provides opportunities for local citizens, schools, agencies and institutions to become active partners in addressing education and community concerns. MCE brings community members together to identify and link community needs and resources in a manner that helps people to help themselves and to raise the quality of life in their communities. MCE has been in the field of out of school time programming for more than forty years, serving the needs of children and families.  

Green Central Community Education coordinator Candida Gonzalez will be assisting to coordinate The Central Identity Project’s many events and just plain making it happen.

Additional support has been pledged by the following neighborhood organizations and individuals: We Win Institute, Tamales y Bicicletas, CANDO, Elizabeth Glidden, Hosmer Library and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Green Central Park director Marshall Wylie.