The Stewardship (1994)
The Stewardship is a 9 X 26 foot fresco painted on the ground level of Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls, MN. It highlights the story of Charles Lindbergh, and commemorates his historic 1927 flight between Little Falls, MN and Paris, France. The fresco also highlights Lindbergh’s passion for the environment and education.
The left section is a “look back” at Lindbergh’s famed background as an aviator, as he views the world from his home in Hawaiʻi as well as his interests in the balance between nature and technology. It also represents the conservation and goodwill efforts. Symbolism is prominent, with the tree in the center–which can be seen as the “tree of life”, yet abstractly can connote a mushroom cloud–truly an ominous vision. Lindbergh’s career included working for the Strategic Air Command to find potential nuclear weapons sites, which were represented no maps by ovals. Adjacent to the tree is an African warrior, wearing the wedjat eye, an ancient Egyptian symbol of luck and protection from evil.
The elephants are included at the request of Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve, who asked for their inclusion because of their playful, matriarchal and problem-solving nature. Elephants conjure feelings of care, and love, are known to mourn over their dead, and families stay together for remarkably long periods.
The students in the lower right section represent our increasingly diverse communities, with children and teacher looking into a seemingly transparent globe–depicting the wonders of the world and education. The “magic ball” depicts the unknown, yet the importance of following dreams, whether they be in “sports, music, education, the arts, or wherever” and that “you are just beginning your education, and following your dream is important work”.
The cat in the bottom reminds us of our responsibility for caring for others and the many species of animal life all around us–and the responsibility of each for the individual health and well-being of our pets.
Watch this video from 2015 which reunites me with Nancy Ratzloff who taught art at Lindbergh for decades and revisits both frescoes. With the 3rd graders in 2015
This fresco is viewable 24 hours day via the 9th Street entrance of the school.