Artists creating the Vikings mural pose with MCAD staff and board members in front of their work in progress.
Artists creating the Vikings mural pose with MCAD staff and board members in front of their work in progress.

The new U.S. Bank Stadium is just about to open its doors, but first a group of MCAD faculty and students is adding a finishing touch.

Four years ago when a proposal to build a new football stadium in Minneapolis was signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, it seemed like forever until the construction would be complete.

Now the wait is finally over. It's July 2016 and U.S. Bank Stadium is opening its doors to the public. A slew of exciting kick-off events are already lined up, including a grand opening celebration, an international soccer game, and Luke Bryan and Metallica concerts. But the main events will no doubt be the games of our state's professional football team the Minnesota Vikings.

And it's this sports team that has inspired the latest mural by Ed Charbonneau ’06, MFA, and a group of artists, including studio mate Jeremy Szopinski and six interns: undergraduate students Hannah B. Farrell, Elisa Anne Gomez, Jonathan Herrera, Celia Olson, Aimee Strzok; and MFA student Suyao Tian. 

Vikings Mural Artists

On the stadium concourse's north side, the 17-by-127-foot mural The Golden Pass depicts a series of spiraling football forms with large shards within the composition that reference the architecture of the building. The dominant color? Vikings purple, of course.

MCAD students, known for their strong work ethic, have been diligent workers on the project. "The students are interning, but they're not just mere assistants, they have been doing everything from mixing colors, to working on complex forms and gradations. We even got them trained and certified to work on scissor lifts. They've been really professional and work well together. They've taken a lot of initiative and ownership," Charbonneau said. "We're painting these football forms to read so they're translucent, so when they overlap they change color—hue, value, chroma. Students are really mixing the colors well. This is a massive color theory project."

"We're going for a monumental feel with an atmospheric depth." –Charbonneau

Charbonneau and Szopinksi are both inspired by the golden spiral, also known as the Fibonacci spiral, and have used it in their work more than once; another of their spiraling murals overlooks the Pedro Park Urban Flower Field in downtown St. Paul. These logarithmic spirals and expansion of scale follow the “Golden Ratio,” thought to represent perfection and harmony, and can be found throughout the natural world in forms such as a nautilus shell and the head of a sunflower. The theme is more than fitting for football, where throwing the ball with a tight spiral is essential for accuracy.

The Golden Pass is just one of close to 300 artworks curated for the Vikings art collection by Sports & the Arts, an organization dedicated to providing professional athletes and sports teams with unique and original works of art. The artists would like to thank Sports & the Arts, as well as Valspar Paint for donating all of the paint for the mural.

Jonathan Herrera

MCAD intern Jonathan Herrera shows off the "Super Brush," an invaluable tool used to paint the Vikings mural.

Valspar Paint for Vikings Mural

Ed Charbonneau (pictured here) and the crew would like to thank Valspar Paint for donating the paint used to create The Golden Pass.


Vikings staff reached out to MCAD more than a year ago and have since been working closely with college employees to solicit artwork from students and alumni. The relationship resulted in the mural, fifteen student- and alumni-decorated footballs for the stadium's opening gala, and works by Christopher Aaron Deanes ’96, Leslie Barlow ’16, Andrea Carlson ’05, Sandra Felemovicius ’95, David Rathman ’82, Michael Shay ’15, and Carolyn Swiszcz ’94 being accessioned into the stadium's collection.

“Soliciting and funding this collection of art from Minnesotans is another way to connect with the community in a very unique way that not only Vikings fans, but all stadium users, can enjoy," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf.

If you want to check out the mural and the rest of the collection but haven’t nabbed tickets for an upcoming event yet, there is a free open house on July 23 and 24.

Vikings MuralCharbonneau in front of Vikings Mural

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