The side of the Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick where the new 1,400-square-foot mural will be installed in May or June 2023. Courtesy of Brunswick Public Art

Brunswick Public Art has delayed the installation of a 1,400-square-foot mural on the exterior south wall of Fort Andross to mid-2023, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

Sixty-four 5-foot squares of canvas will compose Many Stitches, which the organization initially planned to install this summer, according to the release. Fort Andross’ corrugated wall, which will effectively shrink each canvas’ horizontal measurement by 13 percent, is the main challenge behind the slowdown.

“It’s really about both the scale and the technical intricacies and difficulties of working on the building wall where the mural is going to go,” said Project Manager Steve Weems. “It’s just really complicated.”

Though Hallowell artists Chris and Jen Greta Cart have worked on smaller murals before, they said they underestimated the difficulty of transferring their maquette, or primary design, to the larger canvases.

“It took us quite a while to get past all the bugs in that system,” Chris Cart said. “We figured out a few tricks, but mostly it was just a lot of slow and methodical work.”

Artists Christopher Cart and Jen Greta Cart of Hallowell. Courtesy of Jen Greta Cart

By ordering all their supplies early, the couple avoided supply chain logjams that could have forced further delays. Yet the scope of the project still slowed even normally easy tasks like paint mixing.


“It’s not an issue when you’re just sort of mixing a color on a palette,” Chris Cart said. “But when you’re trying to mix three quarts of one color, it’s a lot different than tweaking it with your brush. You have to get it really spot on or else you suddenly realize that instead of … soft pink, you’ve got neon.”

The artists also took time to alter to their initial design after some community members criticized Many Stitches for ignoring European colonization’s impact on the native Wabanaki peoples who relied on the Androscoggin River, as well as the problematic working conditions for men, women and children in the old Cabot Mill in the 19th century. A June 6 op-ed in The Times Record penned by members of the Pejepscot Portage Mapping Project, a local group working to uncover the Waponahki landscape, criticized the piece for placing a white male centrally while “pushing” people of color to less prominent positions.

A preliminary sketch design of the mural from earlier this year. The final installed version will be in color. Courtesy of Brunswick Public Art

“We believe that this composition is not only a missed opportunity for a more engaging and meaningful piece of public art,” the op-ed read. “It actually reinforces cultural stereotypes about race, gender, and the natural world that are the opposite of what BPA has stated as the intended theme of its mural.

Though Weems argued that “Many Stitches” was intended to represent Brunswick’s diverse future rather than its problematic past, he said Brunswick Public Art has had productive discussions with members of the Pejepscot Portage Mapping Project and other groups, which have led to some design changes.

“We’ve heard the commentary,” he said. “We are definitely sympathetic to the checkered nature of the history of the of the site and have shared all this information with the artists so that they could make adjustments that they wanted to make.”

A newer maquette displays changes made to “Many Stitches'” original figures but does not include the canoe the artists said will feature in the final artwork. Courtesy of Brunswick Public Art

The mural’s current design now includes two people crossing the river on a canoe, a reference to the site’s importance as a portage site for the Wabanaki, according to Jen Greta Cart. A new pattern in the river will represent the fish population that helped sustain them.


“I’m hoping that when they see that we did what we could they’ll realize that we listened to their concerns and agree that they have a point,” Jen Greta Cart said. “This is everything we can do without changing the whole thing. We can’t afford to start over.”

Yet poet and Pejepscot Portage Mapping Project member Mihku Paul argued the changes missed the point.

“It’s really for me about, ‘How do we all hold space in a very official, public kind of way?'” she said. “‘How do we ensure that public art encourages the multiplicity of cultures that make up American society?’ We do not feel, even with the improved or altered design, that is happening.”

By minimizing the piece’s historical elements, she argued, Brunswick Public Arts robbed the town’s residents of a chance for self-reflection.

“It didn’t take place at a depth of inclusion that it could have,” she said of the mural’s design process. “It’s a missed opportunity.”

This story has been updated to correct the size of the proposed mural.

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