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An iconic water tower gets projected imagery from students

An iconic water tower on the rooftop of the building housing the Carmichael Lynch advertising agency in Minneapolis's North Loop neighborhood has become a canvas for public art.

A few years ago, the agency decided to take advantage of the century-old water tower, which was no longer in use, according to Maria Hileman, a spokesperson for Carmichael Lynch.

Designers at the agency came up with the idea of projecting imagery onto the water tower, which took on the nickname Rusty. From there, the "mapping projections" continued to loop around the tower on an ongoing basis.

This year, the agency wanted to expand on the project by collaborating with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Sandy Boss Febbo, the project’s art producer, says, “We thought it would be a good way for students to showcase their work.” Figuring out how to design something that translates to the tower is also technically challenging, she says.

The agency ran a contest, which drew 40 entries from various departments at the school. When it came time for judging those entries, it wasn’t an easy call choosing a winner and 16 finalists, she says.

The winning design, from Josh Olson, riffs on the tower’s original projection, which featured a line drawing with eyes, a smile, and other expressive features. In Olson’s 45-second video, a more realistic-looking face peers around, all the while displaying a wide range of emotions. “It’s fun to see the evolution of the idea. The student timed it perfectly to the line illustration,” says Febbo.

Olson's design and those of the finalists will get some play on the water tower, she adds.

From Target Field, people in the stands get a good view of the tower. That's why the agency pushed to get the project done in time for the Twins opener on Monday, but the projections will be easier to spot during the evening games next week, “People will be able to see those loud and clear,” she says. Going forward, “We’re hoping to open it up to other artists outside of MCAD and to use it as a public art space." 

The agency is looking forward to working with the school again, Febbo says. “It was a lot of fun. It really reminds you what a dynamic community this is.”

Check out a video of the project here.

Sources: Maria Hileman, Sandy Boss Febbo, Carmichael Lynch
Writer: Anna Pratt
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