COLOMBIA TO MONTANA: a street artist

Colombian graffiti artist Ledania

Colombian street artist raises Bozeman parking garage’s public art initiative to another level

By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – No matter what the weather, the sunny style of street artist Ledania will always bring a bit of Latin American summer brightness to the Montana State University parking garage.

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The Colombian graffiti muralist, who goes by one name, has completed murals on the second level of the university’s new parking structure that seamlessly combine colors and themes from her native country with symbols from Montana and Yellowstone.
“I like color,” Ledania said. She said her work is distinguished by her use of color, something she said would be welcome in the parking structure.
“The parking area is largely grey,” she said. “I have tried to change that.
Based in Bogota, Ledania is the second artist to complete an installation of public art in the MSU parking garage, which opened in January. Marina Zumi, also a graffiti muralist who now lives in Brazil, completed her installation on the first floor of the garage in April. Both women were recruited by Royce Smith, dean of the MSU College of Arts and Architecture and the driving force to bring contemporary public art to the garage as well as other spots on campus. Smith met both women during an art festival in Paraguay that he curated.
Though different in style, both Ledania and Zumi are masters of the spray can, fashioning entire universes with a set of spray paints. Ledania integrated local wildlife, MSU symbols and Native American culture into her brightly colored murals, which she said are a visual representation of the Americas. In fact, she said that in the eight days she was in Bozeman working on the project — her first trip to the state of Montana — she was able to see wild animals of the area while on a daylong tour of Yellowstone.
“I really loved the hot springs,” she said of her visit to Yellowstone, “and, all the landscapes and animals. We even saw a black bear.”
What she didn’t see in the area was much street art. Ledania said that street art and large murals are common in many places, especially in Central and South America, where street artists and muralists thrive.
Smith said future public art installations planned for the garage will include Native American-themed murals to be created by Matika Wilber, a Seattle-based photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, and a colored glass installation documenting some of Montana’s most prominent geographic features by Tad Bradley, assistant teaching professor in MSU’s School of Architecture. Smith said each of the college’s four schools – the School of Music, School of Art, School of Film and Photography and School of Architecture – will have installations in the garage that will bring together sound, image and space.
“The wide range of projects slated for the garage vividly demonstrate how important arts and architecture are on a campus that celebrates integration and innovation,” Smith said.
Smith said the campus and the community have embraced the public art initiative on campus.
“The parking garage project has brought together the MSU community in a beautiful way—allowing everyone who parks there to enjoy bursts of color and creativity, not to mention some wonderful conversation. As Asbjornson Hall comes online, the experience of parking will interface seamlessly with the experience of learning and collaborating. And that is something that is uniquely MSU.”
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