Artist Lauren Bonney, Decorah, has begun work on a public building mural, “Together in Decorah,” at Vesterheim. The Vesterheim mural is sponsored by the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation; Decorah Bank & Trust Co.; Anonymous; and the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Lauren created the design as part of a 2020 program at ArtHaus in Decorah, funded by the Iowa Arts Council, to implement new voices in public art. The grant provided ArtHaus with the ability to teach mural and business skills to a select group of artists through classes and hands-on experience and to connect local businesses with the artists. Businesses were invited to give mural proposals, and Vesterheim staff were excited to add some color to the concrete addition on the west side of the museum’s Main Building, facing Mill Street.

“One of my goals for 2020 was to paint a mural, and ArtHaus helped me begin this journey in a year that I thought I would have to set aside all of my plans for creating public art,” Lauren said. “The mural took on special meaning for me as the community found new ways to come together in the wake of such a devastating pandemic,” she added.

“We were so pleased with Lauren’s mural vision when we saw it and excited to move forward with making it happen,” Marcia McKelvey, Vesterheim Director of Administration, said.

Lauren said that the mural touches on the themes of community, immigration, and a specific sense of place that defines Decorah. “The mural is dedicated to all immigrants, refugees, and populations who have searched for a new home due to war, genocide, greed, famine, plague, disaster, or injustice,” she continued. “And my hope is that it immerses visitors in a world that is a marriage of modern and traditional folk art and brings color and joy to the community,” she said.

Lauren began painting the mural in July and, once the main design is set, community groups will help complete the design in August.

Lauren is an illustrator and graphic designer creating branding images and logos for small businesses nationally and locally. A Michigan native, she has lived in the Decorah area with her family for 10 years. She has been featured in Inspire(d) magazine and Arts Midwest and has illustrated multiple Decorah Nordic Fest commemorative buttons. She also worked with ArtHaus to create a coloring book featuring interesting and historic sites in Winneshiek County.

ArtHaus in Decorah offers creative community programs for all ages. “We are excited to be a springboard for new artists in the Decorah area,” says ArtHaus Director, Shannon Dallenbach Durbin. “We look forward to creating great partnerships and seeing fabulous new murals throughout the area.” Find out more at arthausdecorah.org.

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