About two weeks ago, after working extremely hard day and night, each group presented their proposals and concepts to Kelley Morice, Vice Chair of the Memphis Farmers Market Board for the Farmer’s Market mural downtown. As I mentioned in the last post, the groups faced numerous design challenges, including the wall’s difficult dimensions (it is nearly 300 feet long and only 5 feet at its highest point!) and the guidelines of incorporating imagery from not only the surrounding area, but also themes related to both the Farmer’s Market and MATA. As you can see from the images below, their hard work planning and designing each proposal clearly paid off. The MFM has selected a design (which I will reveal soon!) and the students hope to fabricate and install this design in a future mural painting course.
Just a sense of the large scale of the mock-up itself...
A detail of the sections that they chose to leave more open-ended ^
Clearly, the MFM Board had an extremely tough decision...they thought all of the designs were very strong, but chose to use group 1's design (Growing Memphis)! There are a few revisions to be made, such as toning down the color pallet a bit, dispersing the faces more evening and adding more representations of landmarks, but overall, they thought this design would be best suited for the area. Again, the mural will not be executed by our class, but hopefully it will be by a future mural painting class!
Emily Murphy working away....
Devon, Julia, Lizz, Lucy and Brannen making some serious progress on the second paint day...
Over the past few weeks, partly due to the typical Memphis weather this time of year, the library construction wall mural has been put on hold until next week and the students have been working on design proposals for the Memphis Farmer’s Market mural downtown. Two weeks ago, the students divided into groups of five to work together to develop three successful mock-ups to present to the Memphis Farmers Market Board. While collaborating as a whole class (16 people!) worked well for designing the construction wall mural, I think we all found that working in small groups had its advantages as well—it seemed to be the case that many students found the process of collaborating in smaller groups to be easier and more efficient. In smaller teams, students could bounce ideas off of each other, and it also gave some, who may not be as vocal in a large group, the chance to better express their thoughts. While each group had their own, unique way of executing their designs, the main commonality was our ole friend, Photoshop. This made the process of duplicating, resizing, rearranging and tweaking the images used for the collage infinitely easier; and though Photoshop can be (let’s be honest) frustrating at times, it allowed the students to create cohesive designs.
However, creating cohesive designs was undoubtedly a challenge, as they were working from a 1-inch to 1-foot scale, making the mock-ups over 11 feet long and only a few inches high! —Essentially, a long, skinny, sliver of a space. So clearly, designing for this vertically challenged wall was not an easy task, yet each of the three groups managed to come up with a distinct, successful and creative mural proposal, if I do say so myself, to present to the board. Not only did they have to work with the restrictions of the space itself, but they also had to consider specific design instructions. Though the guidelines still allowed for artistic freedom, the students were instructed by MFM and MATA (Memphis Area Transit Authority) to include imagery specific to the South Main/Front Street area, public transportation-related images (like trolleys or busses), images specific to the actual Farmer’s Market, and images that relate to the Memphis community as a whole. The mural also must help establish landmarks downtown, respect neighborhood identity and the unique character of downtown, and enhance the surrounding environment. Yesterday in class, the students dry-ran their proposals for a few members of the MFM board and on the 13th, they will be giving their presentations for the entire board. Both MFM and MATA are required to approve the design, along with the Center City Commission and DRB (Design Review Board—responsible for reviewing and approving exterior public art for projects that receive a DMC incentive and for public projects within the Central Business Improvement District).As stated on their Facebook page, MFM ‘is a weekly non-profit outdoor market featuring local farmers and artisans, live music and fun activities,’ running from mid-April through October from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and located at Front Street and GE Patterson.
[click on photo for better view]
A few weeks ago, I went out to the site to take measurements and pictures of every angle of both walls that the students are designing for, which took long than expected, seeing as how the length of both walls combined is nearly 300 feet! Another design challenge is that the height of each wall varies from side to side...it's only about 1.5 feet at its lowest point, and 5 at its highest, not to mention there are two blocks protruding from the right side of wall A and left side of wall B that need to be somehow incorporated into the design. Clearly, each group had their work cut out for them, but the results are stunning--specifics and pictures of each group’s proposals are soon to come!
Coming up in just a few weeks, the Art Department and Urban Studies program at Rhodes are excited to be bringing Eric Okdeh and Noni Clemens from the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to our campus for a public art colloquim as part of the MOSS lecture series, sponsored by the Lillian and Morrie Moss Endowment for the Visual Arts. For over twenty years, the Moss Endowment has allowed exceptional artists and art historians to come to our campus to participate in a number of projects ranging from academic lectures to artists-in-residencies. This is such a great opportunity for not only the Mural Painting class, but also the whole community to learn more about the positive impact of public murals on the community. I've heard a little bit about the sort of mural 'epidemic' happening in Philadelphia, but honestly didn't know much about the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program itself. Their mission statement expresses their desire to work to improve public spaces through uniting artists through collaborative work and to execute murals that engage and have a positive influence on the entire community, with their ‘Golden Rule’ being, ‘when we create art with each other and for each other, the force of life can triumph.’ I think that this statement can easily be applied to the long-term aspirations of the mural painting class and that their lecture will offer a further boost inspiration.
So please join us in welcoming Noni Clemens, Administrative Manager for the Mural Arts Program's Art Education Department and Eric Okdeh, Master Muralist for a discussion on Public Art and Community Engagement on February 16th, 7pm in Orgill Room (in Clough).
The Mural Arts Program unites artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts began in 1984 as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network’s effort to eradicate the graffiti crisis plaguing the city. Since then, the organization has grown to become one of the largest public arts initiatives of its kind, producing more than 3,500 murals and providing critical art education and workforce development opportunities through its Community Murals, Art Education and Restorative Justice programs. As a hybrid of city agency and nonprofit organization, Mural Arts stands as a national and international model for arts organizations, with a 27-year track record of leveraging the community-based process of public art to catalyze true social progress and positive change within Philadelphia’s communities.
For more information, you can check out their website and be sure to come to the Lecture! On their website, you can also browse the many different murals around Philadelphia, such as the ones pictured above, along with each mural's unique story.
The Bottletree, 2010
Acrylic, Stained Glass, Mirror, Bottles with personal effects