Cowtown mural highlights West Fargo history in The Yards
The mural was complete Sep. 19 in hopes to bring life and culture into the area
WEST FARGO– A new mural in downtown West Fargo was inspired to highlight the history behind West Fargo and the meatpacking industry along with adding in some other elements to represent North Dakota.
The “Cowtown” mural, located at the POW/MIA Plaza, 400 Sheyenne St, West Fargo, was completed by Edwin Degges and Lydia Welles.
Degges, a graphic designer for EPIC Companies and art coordinator for Epic Events, worked on the mural during a 50-hour process throughout the course of a week. With the help of Welles, a junior at North Dakota State University, they were able to complete the mural this fall.
The “Cowtown” mural was made possible through the donations from EPIC Events and Burggraf's Ace Hardware in West Fargo.
During the process of designing and choosing the location for the mural, Degges said EPIC likes to consider whether the location has foot traffic, if it's a public space, and if they will have an area to work on.
Degges said the point of the murals is to bring life and culture into the areas they are in.
Degges graduated from North Dakota State University in the fall of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in graphic design and visual arts, with a minor in strategic communication. His hope is to become a full-time artist.
"When the mural is completed and the community enjoys it and sees value in it, then I did my part in bringing vibrance and meaning to the area," Degges said.
Degges has created three other murals with EPIC Events. These include the mural located in the EPIC Companies office, in the entrance at Spicy Pie in West Fargo and a small mural at the Caravel Autism Health in Moorhead.
Degges said he has a handful of designs for other murals and hopes people will be able to see them in the future.
Art has always been a part of Degges’ life. He says that his mother is the one who introduced him to art and designs that have now influenced his work.
"I always drew and doodled as a kid and did not take it seriously until high school," Degges said. "I found I enjoyed doing it for hours on end without getting tired of it. "
Degges met Welle at NDSU in a sculpture class they both took in the spring of 2021. Welles doesn't work at EPIC, however she has contributed to the annual group art show the past two years.
Degges believes Welle is an amazing artist and said that they have the ability to give creative ideas and suggestions with different projects.
"Because of our ability to bounce ideas and walk through the creative process together, she was my first choice to help with this mural," Degges said.
Welles helped with the process of filling in the colors with the flowers and background on the mural while Degges was the "mastermind behind it all," said Welles.
"I was really excited," Welles said. "I haven't done a mural as big as this before. I've done bigger paintings for my program at NDSU. But I have never done a 42-foot mural. So, I was really excited to help."
"It was initially a hobby turned into a passion for me," Degges said. "I felt that I would have a better time turning that into a career rather than any other field. Because why not do something you enjoy for a living?"
EPIC Events is hoping to approve and sponsor three more murals to be done next year. They hope to create a mural similar to Minneapolis’ First Ave Star Wall. Hoping to place it at Essentia Health Plaza at The Lights, the hope is to create a wall of lightbulbs with the names and years of performers who have performed at The Lights.
For the second mural, they hope to place it on the north side of The Firm, along northern Sheyenne Street, with a West Fargo theme. Degges said this mural will be similar to “Cowtown.”
The third mural will be commissioned by the city of Moorhead based on its history. The location has yet to be determined.
Degges and Welles both work on commissions and other projects outside of their work and school life. You can see more of Degges’ work on Instagram at edwin.artstuff and Welles at lydiawelle.art.