Construction Mural Sneak-Peek

Take a look at some of the progress made in class today on the West Village construction wall mural! After collaboratively, carefully and diligently placing, sizing/resizing, cutting/pasting, duplicating and collaging the insane amount of [hand-drawn!] source material, the students were able to combine their individual drawings into one, cohesive image to work from for when they begin painting. As you can see from the images, it was pretty amazing to witness the collage going from a seemingly endless pile of source material to the finished product. Of course, I was simply a bystander and not involved in the actual decision-making process, but from my perspective, this was a great way to get a feel for the way each student works individually and with one another, and the areas in which they strive artistically. While some students were cutting out different images or running up and down the stairs to make copies and re-size them, some went to the actual site to paint the light gray base coat on the wall, and others took on the role of positioning the images on the rather intimidating (if I do say so myself), long and empty white strip of paper on the wall representing the mural space, to scale.

Towards the end, all of the students seemed to have an active voice in the final touches of the collage--some even stayed after class to add some last minute touches or reposition images that were not quite working for them. This study took a lot of work, but it's sure to translate impeccably when blown up onto the actual wall--especially with the help of Ben Butler's drawing class! Both the mural painting and drawing class will be working together within the next few weeks to execute the mural, so be sure to walk by and take note of the progress! There will be photo and video documentation as well. There seems to be some rain headed our way within the next few weeks, but hopefully we can get out there soon to start painting! Alas, we cannot control the weather, nor can we allow it to get in our way, so until the rain stops the students will be dividing into three groups and busy working on the design for another potential mural.

The epic stack of source material...and that's probably not even half of it!
It is probably difficult to see the full quote that the students decided to spread across the entire mural from these pictures, but it is from a fragment of the Rhodes Prayer by Paul Tudor Jones, class of 1932: "May we always treasure the tradition of sound learning and humanitarian service into which we have been called at Rhodes College." The text adds a nice graphic element to the composition.
When creating this study, it was crucial to periodically step back and view the design from a distance in order to critique the composition as a whole, to see if it works as well from far away as it does up close. One of the challenges of this design was creating a unified scene that flowed nicely from section to section, be it through line or unifying motifs, like the quote, so it was important to do this throughout the process.

Erin even got in there to help out!
As you can see, this process was very much based on trial and error and efficient decision making, as much of the projects will be...



The wonderful Elizabeth Gates in the archives has located the images of the mural painted in 2005 on the temporary wall surrounding the south-side of the construction site of Barret Library that Professor Harmon's painting class contributed to. You can see the Troutt/trout imagery I was talking about!

You can find this image and many more of the mural on Dlynx, Rhodes' digital archive collection. Rhodes Archives has spent an innumerable amount time and energy building the digital collection for this on-going project--it's pretty amazing seeing all of this information public and all in one place, with a wide variety of photos and documents dating back to as far as the early 19th century! So if you have yet to check it out, you should definitely take a break from work and do so! I will warn you though, it can be dangerously time-consuming...Actually, the Mural Painting students were encouraged to go to this site to look at vintage photos of the Rhodes campus for inspiration and possible source material. The prepping for the West Campus construction wall mural starts tomorrow, so I should be able to give some sneak-previews and updates on their progress then!


Mural Rhodes Campus

So I've offered a little bit of a verbal preview of the new mural coming soon to Rhodes campus in a week or so, but I thought I'd share a few examples of past on-campus murals by none other than Professor Harmon's painting classes. The first was actually done on the construction wall during the construction of Barret library in 2005. I have yet to see pictures, but I've heard that the mural included a giant head of President Trout surrounded by a sea of trout! Too clever. But sadly, the mural was not permanent. However, a few years ago, E.H.'s advanced painting course crafted the stunning mural housed by Ohlendorf hall--commonly known on campus as the 'Math Mural.' The class, consisting of Amaryllis Lyle (2013), Kate Parker, Kelsea Everett, Whitney Ranson, Lizz Glaus (2012), and Staley Tomfordy, was divided into groups to create their own versions of the prospective mural. They then combined certain elements of all of their studies into one final, cohesive sketch. Below are images of the mural in progress...but be sure to stop by Ohlendorf to see the finished product! Also, note how they cleverly incorporated the red fire alarm into the painting...it's disguised as one of the red pixels!


'This blog documents the unique Mural Painting 366 course, taught by Erin Harmon at Rhodes College. The class will produce three collaborative, site-specific murals through the Spring 2012 semester. While the main focus is the progress of the class itself, the purpose of this blog is to engage and interact with the entire Memphis community.'

The first major project of the class is to produce a sort of Rhodes-themed mural on the, let's face it, notoriously boring eye-sore on campus--that is, the construction wall outside of the soon-to-be West Village dorm across from the Barret library. Honestly, it's just begging to be mural-ed. The color theme will be black, a lighter gray, and bright accents with red, allowing for a bold, graphic look. Each student is to come up with 5 different sharpie studies for their vision of the mural--the students will then combine, collaborate, and work with each other and each others' ideas to create one, cohesive (or not) composition. Pictures of the planning and progress of this process are soon to come! Also, while the class works collaboratively within, we are always open to suggestions so please feel free to give us some feedback!
Also, just to give some background on myself...My name is Sarah Knowles and I am a senior at Rhodes. I'm am currently the fellow for the Mural Painting class Fellowship. I am not officially enrolled in the course, but I hope to be on-site and involved as much as possible.