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Robert Wyland

Robert Wyland, known simply as “Wyland,” is an American artist and environmental activist best known for painting large public murals of whales and other ocean life. Born on July 9, 1956, in Detroit, Michigan, Wyland grew up in Madison Heights, Michigan, and attended Lamphere High School and the College for Creative Studies. At an early age, he developed a keen interest in marine life and a strong belief in caring for the environment. Wyland utilized his career as an artist, through paintings, sculptures, and photography to focus awareness on the preservation of marine life. In 1981, Wyland began a quest to complete 100 public marine murals. These murals were painted in life-size dimensions to increase public appreciation for and understanding marine habitats and the aquatic life they support. In 1990, he painted his 25th “whaling wall” (Humpbacks) in the Lamphere High School pool area. The Wyland Foundation was founded in 1993 in partnership with The United States Forest Service and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Foundation’s goal is to help children and families across the United States rediscover the importance of environmentalism through public art programs, classroom science education, and live events. Since its inception, the organization has worked directly with more than one million children. Wyland spent six days painting the Whale Tower mural on the side of the David Broderick Tower in downtown Detroit in 1997. The mural was dedicated on October 13th, 1997, by Michigan Congressman Sander Levin and Michigan State Senator Michael Bouchard. Wyland's original plan was to paint whales on Joe Louis Arena, but that met too many objections and a deal was eventually worked out for him to paint the then-vacant Broderick Tower. In 2007, in conjunction with science educators and volunteers, Wyland conducted a national tour for clean water called "From Pike's Peak to the Chesapeake Bay — Every Drop Counts," using art and science projects to encourage action in protecting watersheds nationwide. Over two weeks in July 2008, aided by students from 110 countries, Wyland completed his 100th and final marine life mural in Beijing, China, in time for the Olympic Games. The mural, Hands Across the Oceans, featured habitats and wildlife of all 205 Olympic-member countries. This series of 54 canvas panels was one of the world's longest murals at 2,430 feet long by 10 feet high. The mural was also displayed at the National Mall in Washington D.C. in September of 2008 and was honoured by the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. In May 2010, the United Nations released six Wyland images for an international stamp issue celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Today, Robert Wyland continues to dedicate his life to promoting the conservation of marine life through his work with the Wyland Foundation and other environmentalist efforts.

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