I told artist Moira Villard that she was my retirement plan, as I pressed six pennies at the Duluth Public Library on Saturday. Someday, when she’s even more famous, these pennies will be worth more than a cent!
The Chief Buffalo Memorial Mural in Duluth, led by artist Moira Villiard, visually tells the story of a community and the descendants of Chief Buffalo, remembered as a prominent figure that led the Anishinaabe to permanent resettlement in northern Minnesota. Started in 2019, this project also features work from other artists such as Michelle Defoe (Red Cliff Ojibwe), Awanigiizhik Bruce (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) and Sylvia Houle (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe).
Video via the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, a community foundation that serves all of Minnesota with nearly $2 billion in charitable assets for community good.
The Chief Buffalo Mural Project is a collaboration between project manager and artist Moira Villiard alongside lead artists Michelle Defoe, Awanagiizhik Bruce, and Sylvia Houle, the Duluth Indigenous Commission, Zeitgeist Center for Arts, American Indian Movement Twin Ports Support Group, and descendants of Chief Buffalo.
An unveiling of the project is scheduled in Gichi-ode’ Akiing (formerly Lake Place Park) along the Duluth Lakewalk from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, complete with food and an opportunity to meet the artists.
We’ve asked Villiard to share more about the project:
Duluth artist Moira Villiard is interviewed in the Spring 2021 issue of Open Rivers, an online journal “that recognizes rivers in general, and the Mississippi River in particular, as space for timely and critical conversations about the intersections between biophysical systems and human systems.”
The topic of the interview is Villiard’s animated video collage, Madweyaashkaa: Waves Can Be Heard, which was projected in February on walls at the closed Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam in Minneapolis. The article can be read in the PDF version of the journal, beginning on page 50, or on a web page.
Duluth visual artist and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa descendant Moira Villiard reflects on her latest project: “Illuminate the Lock: Madweyaashkaa – Waves Can Be Heard,” featured in February on the St. Anthony Falls lock wall in Minneapolis.
Moira Villiard is one of the artists featured in the Tweed Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition, “Creating Apart: Local Artists Respond to a Global Pandemic.” She loves to organize community-wide mural projects. In this video by documentary filmmaker Mike Scholtz, Moira talks about the future of painting with large crowds of people.
Visual artist Moira Villiard organized a mural project at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial as part of a day of creative expression on Monday, June 8. People were invited to add to the images she created of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a raised fist. The activities also included interviews of black, indigenous and people of color on the topic of police brutality. The interviews will be used in a documentary produced by DanSan Creatives. June 15 marks 100 years since the lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie in downtown Duluth for a crime they didn’t commit.
This week’s Selective Focus subject has a solo show opening next Monday, June 6, at Zeitgeist Arts in the Atrium. Moira Villiard talks about her paintings and the physical toll her work has taken on her.
MV: People are often surprised when I tell them I haven’t been a painter for very long. I’ve always been involved in the arts, but my skills didn’t mature all that much until I got out of high school and spent my first few post-secondary years sketching portraits I found in old National Geographic magazines. Prior to that, I used to draw doodles in my class notes and took pride in calling myself a “surrealist,” though everything I’d done had been on notebook paper.