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ABOUT COMMUNITY Kulm school mural about everyday life

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Krista Vogel Lundgren stands by the 15-by-25-foot mural she created with community input at Kulm Public School. The mural was unveiled Tuesday. John M. Steiner / Jamestown Sun2 / 2

Kulm Public School staff and students say that a new mural is a reflection of community spirit. Gail Smith, Kulm school secretary, said she likes the 15-by-25-foot mural in the school’s common area that was officially unveiled Tuesday. The comments from the community are positive, she said.

“The kids seem to like it and it’s fun,” Smith said. “I think it’s a broad representation of what Kulm is all about.”

A community mural committee formed around two years ago to work with mural artist and 2005 Kulm Public School graduate Krista Vogel Lundgren. Alumni support and a $2,500 grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts made the project possible, said Sarah Gackle, foundation director for Kulm Public School.

“We knew we wanted the mural to feel very personal to our community members,” Gackle said. “The only way to do that was to bring in input from them.”

The mural depictions of everyday life in Kulm are largely contained in three sections of academics, community and athletics, with the remainder largely agriculture and outdoors, Vogel Lundgren said. It was an honor to be asked to do a mural for her own community, she said.

"We knew we wanted the mural to feel very personal to our community members.

SARAH GACKLE, foundation director, Kulm Public School

“We wanted to keep it general so that everyone can relate to something in the mural,” Vogel Lundgren said. “The figures of people are rough and without faces so that they are relatable to people of all shapes and sizes, color and abilities.”

A generic looking farm or church is preferable to singling out one building, she said. A circle of people holding hands depicts the Kulm community as inclusive and welcoming, she said.

“It shows how our community feels about one another,” said Christy Smith, a Kulm school preschool teacher. “I love it and my preschoolers really love it.”

Jacob Dahl, 12, Jud, is a Kulm school student who also likes the circle of people. He also liked the combine and the eagle.

“The mural is pretty cool,” he said.

Vogel Lundgren has painted several murals but said this was the largest and is on two walls with a 90-degree bend in the middle. She scaled her drawing by calculating 1 inch of paper to 1 foot on the wall using grids.

“That’s how I kept things in proportion on the wall,” Vogel Lundgren said.

The actual painting started in December during school break and the final touches were completed around a week ago, she said.

Some of Kulm School’s 137 students took part in Art Talks where Vogel Lundgren discussed the creative process. Student comments also came as they watched her work and led to some changes in the mural, she said.

“It was fun working during school hours,” she said. “There was a B-squad tournament here a few weeks ago and I overheard students from the other schools saying they wished that their school would do something cool like this.”

Darrel Pfaff, high school math teacher, also taught science when Vogel Lundgren was a student. He recalled that she was gifted artistically and academically.

“She was the only student at the time to qualify for the national science fair,” he said.

Vogel Lundgren’s interest in science and art led to a degree in fisheries and wildlife biology and a minor in visual arts from the University of North Dakota in 2008. Today she is the manager of the Kulm Wetland Management District in North Dakota for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but still enjoys the occasional commissioned artwork.

As a mathematician, Pfaff said he was interested in watching how Vogel Lundgren’s drawing was expanded onto a larger space using the grid blocks.

“It just all came together,” Pfaff said.

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