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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Street artist spreads ‘Wings’ at Foxwoods

    Susan Roman of Norwich walks past “Native Eagle Wings,” a new mural by international street artist Kelsey Montague located on the Great Cedar Concourse at Foxwoods Resort Casino Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Sarah King, left, visiting from Virginia, tells her son Michael King, center, where to stand as her father-in-law Leon King, of Massachusetts, walks out of the frame as she takes their photo with “Native Eagle Wings,” a new mural by international street artist Kelsey Montague located on the Great Cedar Concourse at Foxwoods Resort Casino Tuesday, May 7, 2024. The Kings, in town to celebrate Michael’s recent 21st birthday, watched the artist working earlier in the week and came back to take photos with the mural. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Mashantucket ― Foxwoods Resort Casino borrowed a page from the playbooks of Taylor Swift and the Super Bowl when it turned to Kelsey Montague, an international street artist with a thing for wings.

    In 2021, the casino commissioned Montague’s “Arbor Swing,” a mural featuring an array of flowers of each of the 50 states surrounding a swing attached to the side of the casino’s Great Cedar Hotel. Mashantucket Pequot elements were woven into the art, including Mashantucket Cedar Swamp rhododendrons, lady slipper orchids, basket weaving patterns and the symbol of the casino-owning tribe.

    On Monday, Montague was back at Foxwoods for the unveiling of a new mural she’s created in the same location. Like its predecessor, the 17-by-18-foot “Native Eagle Wings” promises to become a favorite backdrop of selfie-takers.

    The mural, according to the tribe, contains “intricate designs and hidden images” that pay homage to the Mashantuckets’ cultural legacy ― “a tapestry of symbolism, including dots, crosses, triangles, domes, flowers and celestial trees.”

    Montague said she hopes the piece “empowers and uplifts people,” which is the goal of all her work, much of which features wings.

    “I feel like I’m part of the family here,” she said. “This is my 10th year doing this, and at this point I’m happy to work with clients I’ve worked with in past.”

    She recalled that her first piece of pen-and-ink street art ― a giant pair of angel wings drawn on the side of a Manhattan restaurant ― went viral almost immediately, propelling her online #WhatLiftsYou campaign. Her murals now can be found in hundreds of locations around the world.

    Taylor Swift, a Montague fan since 2019, commissioned a butterfly piece by the artist last year in a trendy section of Nashville, Tenn., and in 2020, a Montague mural depicting 32 balloons, one for each NFL team, covered a wall on the Miami Convention Center for Super Bowl LIV.

    “We’ve built a strong relationship with her,” Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive officer, said of Montague. “She loves history and the heritage of the tribe, and we’re always looking for new cultural experiences.”

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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