"Center of Good Things" murals unveiled in Downtown Duluth

Sarah Howes

Posted on October 31 2018

Today Mayor Emily Larson, Ordean Foundation President Don Ness, and Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Direct Drew Digby, unveiled the new "Center of Good Things" murals alongside myself and our community on the Ordean Building.

When I was asked to submit a proposal for this project on the Ordean building, I took it as an opportunity to learn, ask questions, and look closely. Because inside this building is incredible work to support our community through the arts, direct service, and philanthropy.  And outside and underneath this building are the stories, the history, and the land and water.

My brother Tom Howes told me about when Chief Biauswa talked about this place so full of wildlife, food, and medicine that it was the "center of all good things."  He said "Why would we ever leave this place?"  And we feel this, in our hearts, when we are in this place.

My brother William Howes told me incredible stories of the giants who care for the woods and for us, of the giant animals who lived here, and the thunderbirds flying over these ancient volcanoes.  And I realized there is so much beneath the surface when we look closely.  This too, we feel.

Our art is meant to teach.  Our birchbark is the oldest "paper."  On it, our memory devices of pictographs.  These five window murals engage you from the busiest street in downtown Duluth as a beautiful Ojibwe floral.  But when we look closer we see the many stories these pictographs tell.  These images can get us asking questions about each other and learning about ourselves.  

The murals are an incredible confluence of the traditional and the modern.  They are a window mural, installed directly on the glass.  Because this is who we are as Anishinaabeg, is a people of adaptation, of the old and the new.  This is who we are as people who live at the confluence of the rivers and this great water.

My most profound hope is that these murals reflect back to us how deep, vibrant, and beautiful Anishinaabeg are and that these images spur in us the desire to learn more.

See the murals for yourself at the Ordean building on Superior Street and 5th Avenue West in Duluth MN.  

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