A New World Record

Corn MaidenBy Heather Harper I Borderline Press I April 18, 2016

Around 2004, I resided in Pueblo, Colorado. Somehow, I never knew of a monumental work of in my locale, called the Pueblo Levee Mural Project. In the words of Thoreau,

“Unfortunately, I [was] confined . . . by the narrowness of my experience.”

This is true for most of us, I suppose, when looking in hindsight.

Until recently, this collective artwork spanned nearly three miles long, and held the Guinness record for largest mural in the world. Within the last month, however, two events arose which changed the mural’s record-holding status. First, the local government began reconstruction along the Arkansas River on the levee, where the mural is located. Several large portions of it were removed in March; yet, one special piece managed to be preserved, much to the joy of local residents and art enthusiasts.

Artist Judith Pierce, a former resident of Pueblo, passed away in the mid-1990’s. She helped to design the Corn Maiden, which is eerily similar to the Dia de los Muertos theme – or Day of the Dead – typically celebrated in Mexico. More likely, though, it is a tribute to the Goddess Selu, a Cherokee myth in the Southwest, whose fable tells of forgiveness and rebirth.

Artist Cynthia Ramu, painted the Corn Maiden after Pierce’s passing along with other pieces; she also acts as the overseer for the mural project. During an interview, Ramu explained that the Corn Maiden represents the Earth Mother. Perhaps its desecration is a social commentary; maybe it is it simply a coincidence.

With the impending reconstruction of the levee, some were concerned that to remove the image would be a sacrilege since the late artist’s ashes were integrated into the mural. Fortunately, the 20-ton block of concrete containing the face of the sacred painting did not crumble as it was removed in sections; a piece of history still remains with us. But as the adage goes: out with the old, and in with the new. Here’s some cool video footage of the reconstruction!

The other event which led to the loss of world title came when a different painting surfaced last year, a mural which is visible pretty much only from the sky. Lilith and Olaf, approximating 21,000 square meters (or 226,042 square feet), was unveiled in Norway in 2015 by artists Ella and Pitr. Though Olaf represents a historical figure, King Olaf I, it is unlikely that the attachment to this painting will be as strongly tied to the people of Norway as the Corn Maiden is to the residents of Pueblo.

More Topics for this Series
Street Art as a “Self-Expression”
Timeline of a Visual Journey
Illustrious Illustrators
Know Your History! Cartoons and Comics
The Base Project
A Glass Act!

Heather1Heather Harper is AN Contributor and veteran writer. Most of her interests center in the non-fiction realm where she strives to use her “strength of the pen” to advocate on various social issues and causes. Learn more about Heather’s contributions to her writing craft.
*My twitter handle: @ExistentialMed


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