Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Human Quintessence Unveiled

A segment of the final mural installation

First off, great job to all of the artists who truly worked hard and pushed themselves to put together this AMAZING piece that will remain with the University of Michigan for years to come. It looks stunning in its final presentation installed on the walls of Palmer Commons. I knew it was going to turn out sensational, but from looking only at separate panels one at a time laying out on the studio floor, it was probably near impossible to envision the visual impact it would actually have once completed.

Second off, sorry for putting up this info kind of late. I've been pretty busy this semester and unfortunately haven't been able to schedule in my weekly studio drop-ins that I looked forward to last semester. So this semester, I don't have the same weekly hour to dedicate my undivided attention to Art in Public Spaces blogging time. (Insert genuinely sad face here). 

It was a neat experience to stop in every Friday and see the student's work progressing through time. I didn't actually contribute to the painting of the mural, but I still felt included in the process since I was able to record images and talk to the student's while their creative fuels were at work. I saw the many frustrations the artists experienced first hand (like Simi trying to remake a particular shade of purple) as well as their successes and triumphs (like Tashina finally laying down all the paint and details of the massive baby face she painted). 

If you would like to relive some of the experiences the students have had while venturing on the mural journey, be sure to check out the videos below put together by Steve Coffey, Megan O'Neil, Mandira Banerjee, and Maryanne George:

Some Lovely Videos Capturing the Raw Experiences and Reflections of the Whole Collective Process:

And Just a Few More Visuals...

The talented students responsible for the massive art work

The official plaque hanging up alongside the mural

And Last But Not Least...

The Cake
(I won't ever forget such a unique cake, perfect for celebrating the installation of such a unique mural.)

If you weren't able to attend the unveiling, we missed you there! There was a great turn out. Be sure to drop by Palmer Commons sometime soon to see the final piece up close!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Unveiling!

Please come to the official unveiling of the new Lloyd Hall Scholars Program mural, Language: The Quintessence, from 7-8pm on Wed., January 25th, in the auditorium on the 4th floor of Palmer Commons.  The student artists will share their experiences creating the mural. Refreshments and ribbon cutting ceremony to follow!

(For directions to Palmer Commons please go to http://palmercommons.umich.edu/directions/)

This mural was created with generous support from the University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Education, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Lloyd Hall Scholars Program; Office of the Provost for Academic Affairs, Palmer Commons; and Arts at Michigan.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mural Installed!

After four full days of painstaking work, the entire 78 feet of mural is finally installed! Special thanks to Charles Repholz from C and P painting for bringing John MacKenzie on board to oversee the installation of this artwork. With able help from Dave Saaristo, John worked miracles with patience and humor throughout the arduous process of hanging over 1200 feet of this spectacularly painted muslin.

Due to the weight of the large sections of mural, many smaller pieces had to be cut and pieced together. It made it easier to handle on the one hand, yet created more difficulties on the other. Once wet with glue the muslin wanted to shrink and stretch simultaneously, and unpredictably, making it a real challenge to put it up into the correct position on the wall.  However, I am pleased to report that the results of John and Dave's hard work has resulted in a true pleasure to behold.

I would post pictures of the finished mural, but photos don't do it justice--plus I don't want to spoil the surprise my students will enjoy when they see if for the first time in person.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We're on day two of installing the mural. It has been a challenging pocess as we've had to cut it up into more manageable  puzzle pieces. The installers, John and Dave are doing a great job putting it all back together 20 feet up in the air. If al goes well it will be completely installed by the end of the day tomorrow!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Silver Lining

Meryl Waldo lends a hand!

Since students weren't available to come put the finishing touches on the final panel of the mural on Friday, my able student assistant, Meryl Waldo, came to the rescue. Meryl (a talented senior theater major getting her BFA in costume design) and I had a grand day together chatting, laughing, eating and finding more and more details that needed attention, until finally we threw down our brushes and declared the mural truly finished this time. This was the silver lining for having to create an emergency panel; getting to spend some quality time with Meryl, and sneaking a chance to put a little paint on the mural myself. 

My students will be examining this last panel closely, no doubt, to see how badly we messed it up--(well that's what happens when you don't show up:-) By Sunday, all 78+ feet of the mural will be rolled up for transporting over to Palmer Commons for the installation process starting Monday morning. And Meryl and I will start painting another 16 X 40 foot backdrop on Sunday for an upcoming production of "Once Upon a Mattress"...happily, the creative opportunities just keep coming!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last minute design challenge!!

I have to thank a number of my students who came back to the studio during the past two days (just when they thought this ridiculous class was all over!) to help design and paint another 5 by 16 foot section of mural.  The size of this little “addition” would normally constitute a very large painting all by itself. Still, we need it badly to make sure the mural fits perfectly into the space where it's scheduled to be installed next Monday. (The installers believe it will take about 3-4 days to complete the complicated task of fitting together the 5 sections of paintings that will cover almost 1200 square feet of wall space.) Once completed the mural will go from one end of the 4th floor Palmer Commons lobby to the other, with cutouts for doorways, exit signs, and elevators.

The elevators are what caused the last minute design challenge. Once the mural was half finished we realized that some really special parts of the mural were going to be lost when we had to cut around the elevators. So, we shifted the mural to the right about four feet to avoid this problem—(which meant we had to cut out about four feet of our design on the opposite side as well--prior to painting).  I knew that this move was going to make us about four to five feet short on the opposite end--but I was hoping that it would be ok if we came up a bit short on one wall. However, I was wrong. The furthest section to the left now had some unfortunate real estate to deal with.  A particularly beautiful passage would have to now navigate around a utilities chase which would have rendered the faces in that section of the mural unmercifully deformed. 

Since my students had their last painting class already, and were now in the midst of studying for finals and writing papers, I really felt terrible having to ask those who could, to return to redesign and paint another 60 to 80 square feet of mural. But return they did.

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Jesus, Simi, Anna, Daniela, Zach and Tashina for making great sacrifices, returning to the scene of the crime, and producing a final fantastic section of the mural.  These students really went beyond the call of duty to help ensure that this mural, newly enlarged, is going to be the very best ever!  My entire class has proven to be a very, very special group of students which has made this entire experience extremely gratifying for me as you can well imagine.

Please do come to our mural unveiling scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th, 2012, on the fourth floor of Palmer Commons. I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised.