Outline the Sky
A public art project for cementing Minot's Skyline
About the project
Union Silos is a public art project designed to turn the downtown Farmer's Union Co-op grain silos at 318 1st ave NE into North Dakota's largest mural and artistic backdrop for downtown Minot.
Work on this project will begin in the summer of 2023.
About the Artist
Guido van Helten
Guido van Helten (b. 1986) is an Australian-born visual
artist and photographer. He is recognized internationally for creating large-scale mural installations and street art underpinned by his exploration of community identity generated through photography and public engagement. Born in Canberra and growing up in inner-city Melbourne,
Australia, the artist was influenced at a young age by traditional graffiti movements leading to an early introduction to aerosol. After graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Printmaking at Southern Cross University, Guido began the development of his contemporary work closely aligned with the movement of large-scale muralism across the world. His practice has developed out of his keen interests in travel, photography, and architecture, as well as learning about cultures in connection with their landscapes.
The artist’s work in regional communities across Australia has attracted international attention and earned him a nomination for the Sir John Sulman prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2016 for his work in the community of Brim, Victoria. Van Helten’s interests and his ability to work on large-scale projects have spurred commissions across the world throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and Australia.
Since 2013, my practice has evolved into an exploration
of identity in connection with the urban environment
inspired by an interest in architectural sociology. With
this approach, my mural projects use photography and
community engagement to uncover human stories with a
strong connection to place.
Why (not) Minot?
Situated north of Bismarck, south of the Canadian border, and a relatively short drive away from Faulkton, SD surrounded by major US highways 83 and 2, Minot has the potential as the location of prominent art and cultural draw in North Dakota.
This project will connect to the ongoing Monuments series created by Guido van Helten, encompassing large-scale murals, storytelling, and photography. Incorporating small to mid-sized cities, these works showcase the cultural values of the regional United States.
The works generate interest from the contemporary
public art movement and its audience in larger metro
areas; and they garner attention due to their prominence, scale, craftsmanship, and detail. The underpinning element of the artist’s community engagement makes the project especially unique.
Monuments links regional communities through
commonalities in their industrial architecture and stories in common, creating a tourism opportunity for a pathway of large-scale, socially focused artworks. As the project grows, it will become ever more connected and accessible to tourists and spontaneous viewers alike. Large-scale visual art can align with a conscience development and revitalization strategy, honoring the past while bringing the activation of the present narrative identity to the forefront.
The final project
The final mural outcome will form an eye-catching visual welcome statement to the Minot downtown as you cross the river over both the 3rd Street and Broadway bridges, bringing activation and a sense of revitalization to the town center while honoring the industrial past, bringing a cultural future to the forefront through public art.
Once the mural design is formulated by the artist, it is presented to the commissioner and will be in line with current artistic direction and style.
The Process of the Project
The design for the mural artwork is achieved through consultation with commissioning partners and local cultural influences in dialogue with community leaders. By documenting the engagement with the community through selected media including photography or video, the outcome will be an artwork design utilizing themes relevant to place.
Key aspects of the design process include:
Guido van Helten’s artworks utilize industrial architecture as an element of urban revitalization. His projects have helped facilitate meaningful collaborative partnerships between developers, governments, local community groups, and other stakeholders through his consultative and inclusive process.
Completed works have attracted considerable international interest and inspired local investment opportunities while also establishing regional cultural
The artist will engage the selected representative organizations from Minot including manufacturing businesses, schools, and nominated community-based programs. Ideas for the large-scale mural will be developed through a consultative engagement strategy resulting in the development of a documentary photographic series on which the artwork concept is based.
Outcomes will aim to document the unique character of the town and inform a mural design that focuses on people, places, and culture-specific to Minot and North Dakota.
Some examples of community engagement strategies include: