Do You Know Who Created The Grand Canyon Mural?

The Grand Canyon Mural at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The Grand Canyon Mural at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

That was the question asked by a friendly Cast Member as I was trying to get a bite to eat the other night over at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It is one of the largest iconic pieces found on Walt Disney World, stretching to 90 feet high. Standing at the Contempo Cafe, I was admiring the nuances of that great mural. She approached me and wanted to share a little bit of Disney insight with me.

“Do you know who created The Grand Canyon mural?”

“Who?” I replied, allowing her to share what she knew.

“Mary Blair!”

“And who else?”

She looked puzzled. I smiled and took her a few feet around the corner. I then pointed her toward this set of 1 foot square tiles forming a quiet cornerstone.

Mary Blair's name leads a scroll of other artists who contributed to this magnificent mural. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Mary Blair’s name leads a scroll of other artists who contributed to this magnificent mural. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

“All of these artists.”

“I didn’t know that!” was her surprised response.

It’s true. While Mary Blair’s artistic presence covers the 1800 tiles of this four-sided expression, there are many others who really played a role during the 18 months involved in making this creation a reality.

This isn’t the only example you can find of combined artistic vision. From the Contemporary, take a couple of monorails over to Epcot, and visit Spaceship Earth.

Epcot is a great place to see examples of combined artistic forces coming together. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Epcot is a great place to see examples of combined artistic forces coming together. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

During that time travel journey, you behold a section of the Sistine Chapel being painted.

Above the beams Michelangelo struggles to paint the Sistine Chapel. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Above the beams Michelangelo struggles to paint the Sistine Chapel. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Who painted the Sistine Chapel?

Of course it was Michelangelo, but it was also a crew of nearly a dozen others. Certainly it was Michelangelo’s vision, but many of the duties other artists took on were vital as well, such as mixing paints, preparing scaffolding, or cleaning brushes. Even Michelangelo would never have been able to accomplish this amazing feat without their assistance.

Many have stated it this way: “None of us is as smart as all of us.” As leadership guru Warren Bennis notes:

“The genius of Great Groups is that they get remarkable people-strong individual achievers to work together to get results. But these groups serve a second and equally important function: they provide psychic support and personal fellowship. They help generate courage. Without a sounding board for outrageous ideas, without personal encouragement and perspective when we hit a roadblock, we’d all lose our way.”

Perhaps it’s Walt Disney who puts it best: “It seems to me shallow and arrogant for any man in these times to claim he is completely self-made, that he owes all his success to his own aided efforts. Many hands and hearts and minds generally contribute to anyone’s notable achievements.”

In some ways, Mary's depiction is one of children coming together. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
In some ways, Mary’s depiction is one of children coming together. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Ask yourself:

  • To be a great team, we must have a shared dream. What does that look like?
  • How do we abandon individual egos to the pursuit of a dream?
  • How do we find the right fit individuals who want to be part of a great group?

Leave a Comment