Voices of Dubuque: Featuring Corban Lundborg
Calasandra Spray (TheLorian)
Continuing with the “Voices of Dubuque” mural exploration, this week we’ll be taking a look at artist Corban D. Lundborg.
Lundborg grew up in the Twin Cities and won two Minnesota state art awards before he graduated from high school. Even with this early success, he was unsure whether or not he wanted to pursue an art career and chose to enlist in the army in search of adventure.
Lundborg was enlisted as a logistician for the United States Airforce in 2009. His first assignment placed him as a Chemical Warfare Supply Specialist in South Korea. While in Seoul, he took an apprenticeship with a tattoo artist that allowed him to continue exploring his love of art. His next assignment was a three-year tour in Italy where Lundborg began canvas painting and developed the brand “COLD studio.”
After four years in the Air Force, he entered the reserves and moved home to Minnesota. To earn an art degree, he taught art to youth and mentored at a drug rehab program. He has striven to inspire people through his art with a focus on value and vision.
COLD Studios is now based in Atlanta, Georgia where Lundborg continues to create a variety of artworks in a multitude of mediums. That is, when he is not capturing images of combat, ariril, and humanitarian environments for the Air Force Reserve as a photojournalist with the 4th Combat Camera Squadron based in South Carolina.
Dubuque is home to four of his breathtaking murals. “Persistence”, a mural of thirty feet by eighteen feet, is located at 698 White Street. A Native American woman is seen hiding within the bricks of the wall; in her hand are images of an arrowhead, an owl, and half a butterfly. To Native Americans, a butterfly symbolizes change and joy, an arrowhead symbolizes protection and courage, and an owl represents death because the nocturnal creature is seen as tied to the night. Taken in tandem with how the woman’s hand is fractured from her body with a ghostly shadow where the bricks are light, this work of art speaks volumes. Tears line the woman’s eyes, but she does not wear a frown; instead, her lips remain neutral. She has accepted her fate.
Around the corner and in front of the building from “Persistence” is an untitled work depicting a woman of color, origins unknown, with a black and white checkered flag. Due to its proximity to “Persistence”, I interpret the woman to be Native American and the flag to symbolize the end or nearing the end of the Native American way of life.
Lundborg’s next two murals were painted this past month in Sept. 2021. One is a tribute to John Coltrane, a jazz saxophonist and composer who now resides on Central Avenue. Coltrane’s jazz changed how music was heard and transcended cultural boundaries, marking him as a man to go down in history. His influence, more than fifty years after his death, is still prominent today. The mural features the man himself holding his saxophone, with his pointer finger directing viewers’ attention to the sky. The way his hand is placed represents Coltrane’s view that the diversity of human beliefs are simply different ways of recognizing one God.
Lundborg also has a Vietnam tribute sponsored by the Dubuque Museum of Art and the American Legion Post 6. The mural was recently painted on the American Legion Post 6 building at 1306 Delhi Street. Fighting against the North Vietnamese, the United States banded with the South Vietnamese in a highly contested war. The mural depicts two Black American soldiers with the American flag hoisted over the shoulder of the man on the left. In the helmet of the soldier on the right is a joker playing card, representative of national views of the Vietnam War. This mural was commissioned to go alongside the Museum’s upcoming Vietnam exhibit. While Lundborg has produced many works of military themed art, this was his first mural of the kind.
Stay tuned for more on the Voices of Dubuque Murals and the artists who painted them.