Transforming Bridges and Communities: A Mural Project in South Minneapolis

River Memory Public art projectRiver Memory Public art project

In a collaborative effort, residents of South Minneapolis are coming together to breathe life into a historic bridge, turning it from an aging structure into a vibrant piece of community art. The 36th ART, Rivery Memory initiative, led by Seward and Longfellow community stakeholders, has partnered with @sprayfinger and Hiawatha Collegiate High School (HCHS) public art club students to create two massive 80-foot wall murals under the railroad/Greenway bridge over 36th Avenue South.

Built in 1908, the bridge stands as the final stretch of rail before crossing the mighty Mississippi River. The project's primary goals are to transform the bridge into a captivating gateway between the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods and to involve high school students in turning a community eyesore into a source of pride.

River Memory Public art projectRiver Memory Public art project

Under the guidance of teachers Derek Davidson and Bryan Daly, 15 students eagerly joined the class. Peyton Scott Russell, the founder of SPRAYFiNGER®, is known for his pioneering work in teaching mural-making techniques to youth, and artists Simone Alexa and Reggie LeFlore are overseeing the bridge project. They are mentoring students in all aspects of the mural-making process, from ideation and design to execution, production, and installation.

River Memory Public art projectRiver Memory Public art project

The mural's theme was carefully crafted through research and context about the bridge site, encompassing the history of the neighborhood, its indigenous roots, local landmarks, and more. The images selected by students include representations of youth and elder generations, the Mississippi River, housing and architecture, native plants, sunrise and sunset themes, poems, maps of the neighborhood, and the Brackett Park rocket sculpture.

Anyone is welcome to witness the creative process by driving by the location and observing SPRAYFiNGER® artists and students at work.

A community celebration and dedication of the mural are planned for Saturday, November 11th, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on the HCHS campus at 3500 E. 28th St., within walking distance of the bridge.


(Photo credit: Jack Becker and Kevin Barnes)