A new mural in the alleyway between the Safe Sex Store and Jimmy Johns on South University Avenue is currently being painted by high school campers.
This mural aims to beautify the street and in doing so provides an art course to pragmatically apply design, said Mark Tucker, its organizer and the director of Arts on the Hill, which is also helping to sponsor materials for the project.
For funding to begin work on the mural, Tucker said he first spoke to Nancy Lautenbach, coordinator of Marketing and Programs with Arts at Michigan, then walked to see Maggie Ladd of the South University Area Association.
He added the process was brief, and that five minutes later Ladd wrote a check for materials and a few days later the painting began.
“We’ll be painting for six weeks, there are three groups of students – one junior-high group and two senior-high groups. And when all this is completed it will look like one continuous mural,” Tucker added.
“They have to collaborate well in a short period of time, they’re making this in only 35 hours,” Tucker said.
The high schoolers who are constructing the mural belong to an academic summer camp at the University called Summer Discovery.
Painting the mural came as a real surprise to high school junior Allison Chod of St. Louis Country Day School.
Chod said that when she signed up for the painting and drawing course, she was expecting something more traditional.
“I thought it would be individual painting and I could put a portfolio together to get into an AP Class at school,” he said.
“But now what I’m getting out of it is experience painting. … I’ll take pictures of the wall when I’m done and turn that in as part of the portfolio,” Chod added.
Tucker echoed that the mural was a big surprise for most of the Summer Discovery campers, who, when signing up for drawing and painting, had expected a more traditional course.
“The course was mistitled. When they signed up for it a couple of people really wanted to do the more traditional art class. But the ones who stayed enjoyed the process,” he said.
“I think it is much more rewarding than sitting in a studio and figuring it out for yourself,” Tucker added.
But high school junior Katherine Sharp from Houston, Texas said although the course was a surprise, her experience thus far has been rewarding.
She added that instead of dealing with a small individual campus the project allows her to greatly expand her workspace.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a cool idea and not something you normally get to do in a painting class,” Sharp said.
South University Jimmy John’s Manager Dan Romm said that even though he is not directly part of the project, he has enjoyed the presence of the mural.
“I see it everyday, I like it. I’m not an artist or anything but its a whole lot nicer than it used to be, that is for sure,” Romm added.