New mural promotes cohesion in the community | Local News | republicaneagle.com – Republican Eagle | Team Cansler

A new mural in downtown Red Wing brings to light the need for unity within the community.

It highlights the differences and similarities between Red Wing residents, sparking intrigue and conversation.

People from different groups and backgrounds within Red Wing were involved in the making of this mural. The goal of the public artwork was to represent all faces in the community.

Each of the faces depicted on the mural can be the face of a neighbor, a colleague or a friend. They make up the Red Wing community.

Throughout the summer and fall months, Red Wing Arts held workshops throughout the community where people could create their own paper template. Artist Peyton Scott Russell then used the stencils to design and create the Faces of Unity mural.

The faces of the participants differ in age, race, ethnicity and gender.

“This mural was created in three workshops and it worked great,” said Russell.

When the mural was unveiled Wednesday night, some of the attendees and people in the community were filled with strong emotions about what the mural means to them.

“What was really special for me was the cultural component of the workshop. As he [Russell] talked about the history of the art form and where it came from and how it started and how it merged with the music itself,” said participant Jeff Kelly.

Many of the mural participants shared how the experience allowed them to express themselves freely and without judgement. They had fun creating parts of the mural while also learning about graffiti and how to articulate a new art form.

“I’m emotional just for the fact that he’s opened a door of positivity for young people of color, a door for children to express themselves without judgement, and he’s given me more motivation to support my daughter,” said Participant Michael said Leakiness Holmes. Holmes continued, “I want to say thank you because unity is needed everywhere and I am blessed and honored to be a part of it.”

Russell is a Minneapolis-based artist and educator, and received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Russell has been part of the graffiti art community for many years and he is breaking down boundaries and stigma surrounding the art form through his public artworks such as the Faces of Unity mural.

“I’ve been teaching graffiti since the mid 90’s, I’m part of the graffiti writing culture. I’ve been at it since high school and now I teach graffiti as an art form uncompromisingly and have been all over the state of Minnesota,” he said.

Russell achieved national recognition as the artist behind the large black and white mural of George Floyd at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis.

Russell typically uses a pseudonym to sign his street works and murals, his pseudonym is Daesk and can be seen on murals and large works of art he has created across the state.

“I’m the artist who did the big black and white face of George Floyd and I was recognized for that and it sent me around the world,” he said.

“I’m grateful for that, but I hate the fact that it took it to get some credit … but I appreciate the credit. I put my alias Daesk on the George Floyd painting because I wanted to install that anonymously. I wasn’t trying to get credit for it, it was my way of protesting and speaking to the community,” he said.

Russell started a new project called Sprayfinger about 10 years ago. It’s a program where he educates about the history of graffiti and teaches graffiti techniques.

“One of the things my Sprayfinger program focuses on is graffiti as a fine art and a serious means of self-exploration and expression that is not just seen as a detriment to the community,” he said.

“He is dedicated to teaching, studying and practicing Graffiti: The Art of Creative Lettering. His mission is to raise awareness of graffiti as a teachable art form by working with schools, teachers and artists to shape curricula, blueprints and lesson plans to deepen understanding of a long misunderstood art form,” the website reads by Sprayfinger.

Russell loves art and devotes his work to breaking down barriers. The purpose behind the mural carries over to some of the other work he has done.

“In the last two years, especially our community here in Minnesota, especially Minneapolis, has been through a lot. Street artists and graffiti artists are in the spotlight because people are finally recognizing them as the voice of the people,” he said.

“We can explain traumatic events that are happening and it gives us an opportunity to come together on a common ground to connect and be a source of expression. I think that shone a new light on my community, people started to see it as a form of expression to tell stories,” he continued.

Red Wing Arts worked with Russell on the Faces of Unity program, which was supported by a grant from the Philip S. Duff Jr. Endowment Fund and, in part, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“This project started after George Floyd after hearing community feedback on what our diverse community needs in Red Wing,” said Emily Guida-Foos, Red Wing Art Director.

“We wanted to represent Red Wing and some of that has never been seen before in this community and it’s great to host this event as an organization and then as an individual to be a part of it and to listen and witness the emotions” , she continued.

The Faces of Unity mural is currently on display alongside Fair Trade Books at 320 Bush St.

For more information about Sprayfinger, visit sprayfinger.com or their Facebook page.

Leave a Comment