NMAT students create mural for local mall: Indiana University Kokomo
KOKOMO, Ind. – After weeks of looking at her works on a computer screen, it is a surreal experience for Mara Fivecoate to see her vision in a larger than life format.
Fivecoat, a junior at Indiana University Kokomo, designed a 91-foot-wide and nearly 20-foot-tall mural near the new entrance to the Markland Mall, for a summer course on a project of community art. Now she and her classmates are working hard in the hot July sun, bringing her to life, one box of paint at a time.
“It’s a little intimidating to display your artwork on a giant wall,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling to see the progress and to know that this is my design. So many others in my class had wonderful ideas, and I am grateful that mine was chosen.
She created a retro feel for the brightly colored mural, which proclaims “Welcome to Kokomo,” with a skyline depicting the city and county in the lower half. Images of the Covered Bridge and Old Ben in Highland Park, a Haynes Apperson car, and the IU logo, among others, fill the letters of the word Kokomo.
Aaron Pickens, assistant professor of fine arts and new media, said it was the third mural that IU Kokomo students made during summer school, with the previous two being located at downtown. He is delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit student work at the mall.
“We are very lucky to have something so important in the community, and to say that it is from UI Kokomo,” he said. “It’s good not only for the community, but also for our campus.
The project gave the seven students the chance to participate in a professional design proposal, just as they might as working artists. Each took the criteria of running the mall – something that celebrates life in Kokomo and welcomes people to the city – developed an idea, put it on paper, and created a presentation. The mall representatives went through them all and selected the ones from Fivecoate, with just a few tweaks.
“Seeing a design that only exists in pencil and paper, bringing it to a computer to generate an image, and then seeing the competitive side of commercial art is a valuable experience,” Pickens said. “It shows them that you can do a large-scale project, but there is a lot of planning involved. You need to make sure that the planning is done to the best of your ability. It just gives them a little taste of what it is.
Each student will have completed 120 hours of labor painting the mural before it is finished in early August. While they are painting, they can also interact with people as they pass by and tell them about work – and have even been asked to create murals for other buildings.
It is a welcome experience for those interested in artistic careers.
“There is a myth that as an artist you will always be poor,” Pickens said. “An experiment like this shows that it is quite doable. This gives them some optimism that a career in art is a real possibility.
“They learn from real world experience that you can make money by being a muralist.”
Alex Townsend once painted a mural for a restaurant where he worked, but said the classroom mural was a different experience.
“The other one, I had to come up with a concept on the spot,” said the Tipton resident. “There’s more of a real world feeling to this. It felt more like an actual project than everyone getting together and painting something. If another opportunity presented itself I would definitely do it again. “
Fivecoate, from Kokomo, is majoring in psychology with a minor in art studio, and is considering a career in art therapist. However, she is open to another big project.
“Art has been a big part of my life since I was young,” she said. “I’ve never painted a mural before, but now I want to do another one. “
The other participating students are Nancy Santiago, Frankfort; Brittany Lucas and Kena Spurling, Kokomo; Mason Pate, Lafayette; and Sienna Urbina, Logansport.
Education is KEY at Indiana Kokomo University.