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Colorful mural installed at Cloquet Middle School

Local artist Adam Swanson and art teacher Andrea Cacek worked together to install a pollinator education mural at Cloquet Middle School.

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Adam Swanson, Jasper Swanson and Andrea Cacek apply the finishing touches to a new mural outside of Cloquet Middle School on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — Two friends, both artists, saw a two-year plan of creating a mural become reality when their mural was installed at Cloquet Middle School on Friday, June 10.

Local artist Adam Swanson said he had spoken with Cloquet Middle School art teacher Andrea Cacek about doing a mural, and after receiving two grants this year, the mural was created.

Students finished painting the mural earlier this year; however, Swanson said to install the mural on the outside wall by the garden, the type of adhesive used needed better weather.

The students were involved in every part of creating the mural, which took roughly four weeks of painting inside the school.

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Brothers Jasper and Oliver Swanson make sure the new mural being added to Cloquet Middle School is flush with the wall on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Cacek said the design started with taking students' drawings and ideas and looking through for themes and ideas that were shared.

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Many of the ideas included elements of people working in the garden, little shovels and lots of hands holding things, all of which have been incorporated into the final mural.

"Just how you can take all those separate pieces of art from those little minds and come up with something that is cohesive is what I thought was surprising," she said.

The mural was painted indoors in six sections before Swanson and Cacek put it up outside Friday.

Cacek said it was nice for the students to paint the mural earlier this year when it was cold and raining out.

"The kids were just excited to be a part of it, especially because it is so visible," she said.

Swanson's design incorporated his interest in science and technology and how it interacts with nature.

The project also had an educational component where the students involved learned about pollinators.

"The coolest thing about this mural is that it was part of sort of a bigger project which involved ... the Northeast Minnesota Beekeepers Association," he said. The association was able to give a presentation to the middle school students about pollinators.

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Cacek said students were really interested in learning about endangered bee species, especially since they thought endangered species wouldn't be near where they live.

"They don't think of anything in Minnesota as being endangered," she said. "It was cool for them to make that realization that it's not just pandas in China (for example)."

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Andrea Cacek, an art teacher at Cloquet Middle School, applies paint to the mural located next to the plant garden on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Jasper Swanson, a sixth grader who will be in seventh grade next year, worked on each stage of the mural and helped his father put the mural up on Friday.

Some of his favorite parts included watching the progress being made on the mural and painting the plants and flowers.

"It was either painting a bunch of different areas and coming back and seeing it touched up and having it better than it was before," he said. "Also just going through all the stages."

Jasper Swanson worked on the garden areas of the mural like the pumpkins and a few of the flowers.

"It'll be here a pretty long time," he said.

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Adam Swanson shows his son Jasper how to apply touch ups to the Cloquet Middle School Mural on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Adam Swanson said the most enjoyable part about the project has been working with the students, as almost all the art classes were involved in creating it.

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"I mean at least 300 students did a little bit and that’s not even counting the concept — coming up with concepts and stuff," he said.

One special aspect of working with the students were those who came out of the woodwork to help on the mural.

"They were really into the mural, so they would come in during gym or ask their reading teacher if they could come out or something and paint on the mural," he said.

While the mural is up and visible to any who would like to see it, even through some of the trees from Washington Avenue, there is an equal size space on the wall on the other side of a plastic shed.

Swanson said there no plans yet for another mural, but the space is there.

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Local artist Adam Swanson pushes in edges while applying a mural to a wall on Cloquet Middle School on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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The finished mural on the side of Cloquet Middle School.
Contributed / Adam Swanson
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Andrea Cacek, right, and Jasper Swanson apply some of the final touches to the Cloquet Middle School mural on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Andrea Cacek and Adam Swanson prepare paint for touch ups on the Cloquet Middle School mural on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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From left, Andrea Cacek, Jasper Swanson and Adam Swanson start applying paint touch ups to the mural at Cloquet Middle School on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Art teacher Andrea Cacek, right, and Cloquet Middle School student Jasper Swanson work on applying a mural to the side of the school on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Local artist Adam Swanson paints the bottom of the mural at Cloquet Middle School on Friday, June 10.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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