Renowned muralist Greta McLain presents her life’s work to motivate Anoka-Ramsey artists.
Ben Harvey, Staff Writer
Greta McLain, an established public artist and Twin Cities native, gave a presentation to Anoka-Ramsey students and guests about her ten-plus years of work in January in the visual arts wing of the Coon Rapids campus.
McLain grew up in the Twin Cities and attended South High School in Minneapolis before studying muralism at the University of California, Davis. Although McLain has assisted in other projects from Philadelphia to Argentina to France, McLain stated “her projects in her hometown were the ones that touched her heart the most” because it’s a “way to really share the stories of people who were living and working [in Minneapolis] … making the invisible visible.”
McLain’s work in Minneapolis has given her plenty of opportunities to reconnect with her local roots. Many of McLain’s murals are put together through artist residencies, a program that allows her to work directly with students from Minneapolis schools. The students paint and create while she supervises, instructs, and lends a hand where needed. The teamwork involved in this method drew McLain into muralism.
“I actually painted my very first mural when I was nine years old at [my] elementary school,” she said. “There was an artist that came in and they let us work [with him] to paint a mural on the wall… I painted that with my friends, and I was like, ‘This is it. This is what I’m going to do. I’m in.’”
“You get to have your friends next to you, and you get to really celebrate it because it’s not, like, an ego trip because you all made it together,” she explained.
McLain’s presentation served as a source of inspiration to her audience.
“For me, it’s more about motivation to literally do what I want to do, what I’ve always wanted to do since I was little, this [art] helps me break down stereotypes, with other people,” student Teaona Wade said.
“We want to break down stereotypes, but make it into an art thing, more ‘don’t speak it, just show it,’” Teaona’s sister, Taelynn, added.
McLain encouraged her audience to think as artists about all they “bring to the table,” and to “really claim that because that’s going to open up so many opportunities beyond a studio or beyond a gallery show.”