Latest storm drain mural gives clear message: just water, no waste
FMR's latest storm drain mural for water quality, designed and painted by local artist Precious, shows a sunset over a cityscape in vibrant colors. You can see it at the Mississippi River Gorge scenic overlook along Mississippi River Boulevard in Highland Park.
Each year FMR works with community partners to create and install a water quality-themed mural near a storm drain at a park in St. Paul. As part of our Water Quality Education program — which also includes storm drain stenciling, cleanups and educational outings — these murals serve as reminders that our city landscape connects to the river through storm drains and that we can all work together to keep our water clean.
This year Precious and FMR collected community thoughts and ideas at workshops with our Environmental Stewardship Insistute summer fellows and at the Spirit of Water event in nearby Hidden Falls Regional Park. Read on for an interview with the artist about her process and connection to this work.
An interview with Precious, our 2023 mural artist
Originally born and raised in the southside of Minneapolis, I am an artist and creative who has been doing the artwork I've been doing since my adolescence. I created a remote design studio named King P Studio where I have done design work for different nonprofits, corporations, agencies and many entrepreneurs. I create with the intention of telling a story and allowing others to see themselves in the story.Q: How would you describe your style?
My style is very pop art, Afro, futurism, organic and styling, and aesthetic.Q: How do you think art fits into environmental activism or stewardship?
Art in all of its credit always helps a consumer to look at what is being said to them and see themselves so they can explore more in the art. Art also allows for people to pay attention, and actually put forth the effort to do something that is actionable — steps that can actually help others in their environment or community participate as well.Q: Can you tell us about your relationship to the environment, the river or water?
Often times my spirit goes towards the water, because being the true Capricorn that I am, I often need fluidity in my life or I need to release something back to the Earth, some type of way. And water does that for me and all of its forms because it doesn't have a particular boundary. So I get to meet the water in different spaces that allow both myself and the water to feel full and be seen.Q: Can you describe the process of creating this mural?
So first, we created the artwork in workshops that allowed us to really see what other people imagined for the dream mural, and how they wanted to actually educate the community on not putting things down the storm drains because it will affect our Mississippi River. The next thing we did was take the time to sit down and draft what it could look like to have a flow of water from the drains that most people maybe wouldn't pay attention to.Q: How did the community input shape your approach to the mural?
By doing the workshops, we were able to actually get input from community. We were also at another event at Hidden Falls. We got input from older community elders who wanted to also bring awareness to the storm drains. We input all of that information into our design for the mural.Q: Did any input from the community workshop really stand out to you?
The essence of the color theory that both elders and children in high school put together so it could be implemented into the mural really brought different joy in perspectives.Q: What do you hope people will think or feel when they see the finished mural?
That they will be smart enough not to put any garbage down the drain and be considerate — littering by the drains is a hazard to our water.
Find our other water quality murals in St. Paul
We have six other storm drain murals designed in community with local artists:
- 2022: At Lake Phalen by Graci Horne
- 2021: At Swede Hollow Park by Thomasina Topbear and Tom Jay
- 2020: At Harriet Island by Liv Novotny and Violeta Rotstein
- 2019: At Lake Phalen by Liv Novotny and Violeta Rotstein
- 2018: At Como Park by Gustavo Lira
- 2017: At Como Park by Gustavo Lira
Want to protect our waters?
Thank you to the City of St. Paul Public Works Department for supporting the Water Quality Education program and to Highland District Council for partnering on this project.