The mural takes place on an August day in mid-afternoon and there are over 118 species represented on the wall. The more species in the river, the healthier it becomes. The mural features native species of birds such as Wood Ducks, Geese, King Fishers, Cardinals, Blue Birds, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Loons and Swallows. There are also wild flowers that line the banks that consist of Black Eyes Susans, Wild Bergamot and Showy Milkweed. The trees that line the banks are Maple, Oak, Birch, Willow, Elm and White Pine. Insects in the painting are beetles, butterflies and moths. The animals that roam the painting are deer, river otters, fox, and owls.
Not only is it a painting, but there are 3D elements added as well. Some animals, fish and plants are sticking out of the wall. It gives the mural a nice sense of push and pull and gives it that “real-life” look. Melissa Gohman, a ceramic artist, led a team of apprentices in creating the ceramic elements of the installation. The first level is the underwater portion and the second level is what is above the water. The mural all together is 44 feet long and 28 feet tall. That is 2 generous stories to get the painting done well.
The painting process started in October of 2011 and was a collaborative effort of artists for 3 months. Melissa Gohman, the Visual Arts Director for the Paramount Arts Resource Trust was the director and driving force behind the whole project. Willicey Tynes was the lead artist on the project. Dan Mondloch from St. Cloud State worked on the mural from the beginning.
The mural represents the cross section of the Mississippi River as it flows through the town of St. Cloud, MN. The Mississippi is the 4th largest watershed. It crosses 32 U.S. states and takes approximately 90 days to get from the headwaters in Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. The St. Cloud part of the river is lush in nature and wildlife and was a key aspect that they wanted to convey in the mural design.