Illustrating diversity

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June 4, 2007 // UPDATED 9:10 pm - June 6, 2007
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas

The diverse faces of Minneapolis Public Schools will be on display this summer in a new Downtown public art project set for installation Friday on the second floor of the Stimson Building, 700 Hennepin Ave.

Minneapolis photographer Norbert Marklin created the photographic mural, “Many Views, One Vision,” by combining the profiles of 30 Minneapolis school children from diverse backgrounds. The students pictured include immigrants from Tibet, Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait and other countries, as well as native-born students.

Many of those students and their families will gather 10:30 a.m. Monday to view the mural, which is visible from Hennepin Avenue.

Marklin said he was inspired to create the piece after learning over 80 languages were spoken in Minneapolis Public Schools. After English, the most commonly spoken are Spanish, Somali and Hmong.

Kristina Robertson of the district’s Multicultural Multilingual Office said the mural was “a visual reminder of what the different children look like and what they bring to our education work.”

Robertson said immigration to Minnesota in the late 1990s dramatically increased diversity in the public school system.

Marklin photographed the students last school year during visits to Anishinabe Academy, Marcy Open School and Seward Montessori School. The project was supported by a grant from Forecast Public Artworks in St. Paul.

The image will remain on display throughout the summer while the Stimson Building — also home to the Pantages Theatre — undergoes renovation.

Later, Marklin and district officials hope to install a permanent version in the district’s Multicultural Multilingual Department.

Robertson said there are tentative plans to use the image to market district programs for English language learners, including producing the image as a poster.

“I want to make coffee cups,” she said.