When Region Five Development Commission sent out a request to local artists for artwork to be displayed at the Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace in Little Falls, local designer Julie Ingleman was both excited and inspired by the opportunity. Julie had been to the market building a few times and, from the beginning, had wished there was a more impressive entrance.
Julie envisioned a large mural and began brainstorming for just the right content. She wanted to show the seasonal images of farm fields and while going through hundreds of stock farm photos, she found some bold aerial shots and knew this was the creative direction she wanted to pursue for the mural. The five large panels would represent spring, summer, and fall when the earth is awake and most productive. Julie wanted to let the mural artwork “sleep during the winter, as the earth does also,” she said. “I wanted to exhibit the color and vastness of what the earth gives and gives and then also remind all of us of our need to care deeply for the earth in gratitude for everything that it gives to us.” Julie also knew the ideal production method would be to print on exterior vinyl from Digital Ink Design & Graphics in Brainerd, MN. The substrate comes in rolls so the mural design could be 4-feet by 20+-feet long, which would be essential for the size of the proposed mural.
In his essay “Horizontal Grandeur,” the late Bill Holm, Minnesota poet and writer, wrote “The prairie is endless! It goes for a thousand miles...lit by brilliant sunsets and geometric beauty. As a mountain is high, a prairie is wide, horizontal grandeur, not vertical. It requires time and patience to comprehend. It unfolds gradually, revealing itself a mile at a time.”
This is the land I grew up in...the prairie, my grandfather’s farm, the earth that I was taught to respect and honor, a gift to cherish. I am still mesmerized by the vast fields that change so dramatically from the first of spring until the last autumn harvest. Dry brown, then bright lime sprouts, then thick lush dark green, turned golden, then quickly darkened earth again. When creating my piece “Earthen” I wanted to reflect the geometric richness and delight that the earth gives us, has always given us, and which now, unfortunately, gives us deep concern for its very well-being.
Julie’s proposal was submitted and after a couple of weeks she heard that her mural had been selected to move forward. She was thrilled, however, there was one caveat: the photos needed to reflect Minnesota farms. It was suggested to hire a drone photographer, but in order to depict the three seasons, the project would have gone into late fall with no guarantee that the photos would be as bold and interesting as the ones Julie had found after going through hundreds of them online. Julie asked for a few days to think about it and try to find a solution. After hours of googling, Julie found a photo with potential on a Minnesota Department of Agriculture website. Several emails and calls turned up zero leads. She then called Explore Minnesota, the State’s tourism resource, and spoke to Communications Manager, Erica Wacker. Erica said she’d dig around a little and within hours, came up with four aerial photos which were perfect for the project. After cleaning up the photos and carefully manipulating them in Photoshop and Illustrator, the mural was finished. “It was fabulous,” Julie said. “Even better than the original.”
Inspired by Zen master, poet, and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Love Letter to the Earth (Parallax Press, 2013), Julie added the words “We are The Earth and The Earth is Us.” and then her mural, EARTHEN....Honoring the Earth Beneath Us from Above, was ready for print.
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Julie Ingleman has owned and operated her own design business for 40 years. With a beginning in graphic design, she evolved into designing home products, and ten years ago returned to graphic design full-time living in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Her studio is in her home among 40 tall pines trees on lovely Lake Margaret. She is passionate about color, space, and visual creativity in both residential and commercial settings. Those interested in work by Julie Ingleman Designs can contact Julie at julieingleman [at] gmail.com.