When local ceramicist Catie Miller saw the City of Fargo was seeking art proposals for the exterior of the new City Hall, she knew it’d be “a bit outside her comfort zone” as a primarily three-dimensional artist.
But she took out her vibrant acrylic paint, pens and brushes and decided to “give it a shot,” she says.
“Ideas about the area immediately began to form in my head,” Miller says. “I spent time researching some of the history archives of the area, focusing on why Fargo was built where it was. The railroad, transportation, agriculture and river systems were the launching points I drew from.”
As a result of embracing the opportunity, Catie Miller is now the first artist to have her work featured on 12 steel panels outside the Commission Chambers of the brand new building.
“It is a big honor to be chosen for this project,” Miller says.
Miller, known for using vibrant colors in her work, was chosen among 15 other artists by a subcommittee comprised of working artists, visual art professionals and community members.
Fargo’s Arts and Culture Commission reviewed the top five selections and presented its recommendations to Mayor Tim Mahoney for final selection earlier this summer.
Miller’s designs were printed on vinyl and applied to the steel panels, which were intended to showcase public art since the building’s conception.
The method of printing the designs on vinyl allows “for versatility and the ability to highlight different pieces of visual art in future years,” the City of Fargo stated in a press release.
Although Miller found inspiration in many environmental characteristics of the region, she says the beloved Red River was a major influence in her work.
“The river continues to be a strong force within our region. I had the opportunity to tour the water treatment facilities and learn more about the strength of our water system,” says Miller, whose father works for the City of Fargo Water Treatment Facility. “My brother (is also) a City of Fargo mechanic who repairs and maintains all types of city vehicles from the snow plows to the lawnmowers, so there is a personal connection to some of the artistic choices I made, too.”
Overall, Miller hopes her artistic vision serves as a testament to the strength and resilience of Fargo and emphasizes the importance of community gatherings, cultural events and a renewed focus on green energy and innovation.
“After looking at city planning documents, I was able to formulate some ideas based on community feedback, for what the future of Fargo could look like,” Miller says. “Much of the future focus is on creating culture, embracing our climate, and continuing to enrich the natural beauty of the region.”
Catie Miller’s artwork is located on three sides of the Commission Chambers at the new Fargo City Hall, located at 225 4th St. N. in downtown Fargo. The building is planned to open to the public on Monday, Sept. 17.
For more information on Catie Miller, visit catiemillerceramics.com.