Bemidji Public Library hosts open house for new mural
Red Lake artist Wesley May, whose work can be seen throughout Bemidji and Red Lake, was commissioned to paint a large mural on the wall of the children’s section of the library. Now through the end of December, the library will host a self-guided open house that patrons can explore at their own pace.
BEMIDJI -- While the Bemidji Public Library was closed earlier this year, colorful changes were happening inside.
Beloved Red Lake artist, Wesley May -- whose work can be seen throughout Bemidji and Red Lake -- was commissioned to paint a large mural on the wall of the children’s section of the library.
He did so over the course of a few weeks in July and August when the library was still fully closed to the public due to the coronavirus. Now that the library is reopened with a sense of normalcy returning, Ara Gallo, assistant branch manager at the Bemidji Public library, said the time is right to celebrate May’s work.
Through the end of December, the library will host a self-guided open house that patrons can explore at their own pace. Community surveys, coloring pages and bookmarks are available to take, as well as information from May and librarians about the new mural.
In his artist statement on the piece, May said, “an artist’s role in the community is to bring awareness of the voices that are rarely heard, not to lead the charge of any cause, but to unleash the potential of others through art. Using Creator given talents to serve others, I demonstrate the simplicity of life through paint, utilizing the four colors of the medicine wheel as my starting point, where our roots grow, to swirl outward to be more inclusive of all races, all emotions and all parts of being.”
The design was inspired by the Native American Seven Grandfathers Teachings and is titled, “Shared Values Equals Shared Vision.”
The Grandfathers Teachings are listed at the bottom of the mural, and are also printed individually on bookmarks for patrons to take home.
The number four is present throughout the design. Four faces, which May has said represent different races; four colors of the medicine wheel; four parts of a person’s overall well-being -- emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.
The four handprints were also placed inside the heart, under May’s guidance, by four librarians.
Funding for the new mural came from a Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant.
“We really liked Wesley’s art, we’ve seen it in all different places all over town, and we had some legacy funding left over, and we thought it would be a really good idea,” Gallo said, mentioning that the library specifically wanted to hire an Indigenous artist and that May was the first to come to mind.
Within Bemidji, May’s work can be seen at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, in front of the Wolfe Center, and inside the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State.
Patrons are welcome to come view the self-guided open house and mural at the Bemidji Public Library throughout the month during the hours that the library is open, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Those who would like to view the open house virtually can do so on the Bemidji Public Library Facebook page .