Tracker Pixel for Entry

Climbing to a more colorful future

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | October 22nd, 2015

By John Showalter

Living in one of the more prosperous nations in the world, it can be easy to take things for granted. Whether it’s food, clean water, shelter, education, proper medical care or even something that might be passed off as unnecessary by the more cynical of us, like art or a place to play. There are millions if not billions of people on this planet that would be ecstatic to have even one of those things. In the case of the last two, Ann Mladnick and her husband Mat St. Martin are hoping to improve the lots of others in quite a novel fashion: artistic climbing walls.

Speaking of things being taken for granted, I was lucky enough to get an interview with the couple despite the twelve-hour time difference between here and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where they’re currently staying and, more importantly, where rolling blackouts have been regularly occurring.

After graduating from MSU in 2013 with an art major, Ann wanted to find a way to be a teacher, despite not having a degree in education. The opportunity to do so presented itself in the form of teaching English abroad with her husband, whom she met in Fargo as he was hitchhiking across the United States and who had studied rock climbing in New Zealand. “It was kind of a whim, kind of a ‘why not?’” Ann said.

The couple has a great devotion to public art. Before their excursion to southeast Asia, Mat and Ann started a volunteer community project at Heartland Special Needs here in Fargo. In the course of two weeks, working from sunrise to sunset, they were able to bring color and uplifting art to the otherwise sterile hallways of the place, bringing great joy to people who are too often marginalized by the rest of society.

“The people who need it the most have it the least,” said Ann, pointing out how art, which she staunchly believes should be enjoyed by everybody, is all too often something only enjoyed by the wealthy, gracing private galleries or standing in the lobbies of buildings of multi-billion dollar corporations. And although she may enjoy particular works of art in museums, she hates the sterility encouraged in them, which almost seems to steal the soul out of the artwork.

It only makes sense, then, that in the near future when Mat and Ann travel to Bangkok, Thailand, as well as several rural communities, they would want to bring art to the impoverished and underprivileged. Combining their passion for art with Mat’s interest in climbing, they plan to make ten-foot walls that function both as mural art and as a means for play and exercise for the youth and adults of Thailand, a form of art that can not only be viewed, but touched and interacted with.

They will be placed in areas where less fortunate people live, perhaps even under bridges and in alleyways. Zoning doesn’t seem to be an issue. “We’ve never been told no,” said Ann.

Living in a country with an overabundance of video games, twenty-four-hour gyms, bars and video-on-demand, it might be easy to forget how lucky we are to have this plethora of entertainment options. Ann related an anecdote about how during their stay in Cambodia, major flooding was occurring. The children, many of whom didn’t even have a basic education, much less a place to play, waded out into the raging floodwaters rushing across the highway and swam until traffic scared them away. That is the everyday life for many people in that area of the world.

If their project is successful, Ann and Mat plan to bring their interactive artwork to the less fortunate parts of our own country. Unfortunately, donations have all but dried up in the last couple weeks. Their Indiegogo fundraiser, which was started at the end of August with a target of $1,000, has come to a standstill at just over $750. “It may not seem like a lot of money until it’s not coming in,” Mat said. If they manage to meet their goal, those funds will allow them to build at least three of these mural climbing walls throughout Thailand.

So if you happen to have any extra funds at all, something is better than nothing, and hopefully we can all bring some enjoyment to the harsh reality of Thailand’s poor.

RECENTLY IN

Arts

Tracker Pixel for Entry HPR Sales Tracker Pixel for Entry HarborHealthClinic Tracker Pixel for Entry TAK Tracker Pixel for Entry HPRONLINE

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

Predatory Capitalism Breeds Predatory Medical CareSurvival in the animal world depends upon who eats who. Wolf packs in Yellowstone chase down the oldest weakest elk and kill with a chokehold. African lion prides select the oldest…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Writer Rita Kalnejais adapts the script of her own 2012 play “Babyteeth,” and Shannon Murphy, delivering her feature directorial debut, guides a fantastic ensemble of performers to success in what could have been an…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“We have forgotten history for one reason and, if we are not careful, we will neglect it for another…When exactly was the ‘again’ in (President Trump’s) slogan ‘Make America Great Again?’Hint:It is the same ‘again’…