Mural project provides platform for A&S student artists
Mattie Perez (Program Assistant, Sr. – Advising) exhibited a love of art from an early age, but her interest waned as a college freshman. “I didn’t see a future for myself as an artist,” she says. Fortunately, her supportive coworkers in Advising reignited this passion, encouraging her to create the large chalkboard wall now visible in the 1st floor advising lobby of Gardiner Hall. Working alone, Perez chalked a different mural every week for nearly two years before deciding this could be an excellent opportunity to support and encourage undergrad student artists. Thus, the A&S Featured Artist project was born.
Though the project took a bit of time to get off the ground, Perez now manages an overflowing waiting list – it’s currently full through December – of students hoping to bring their artistic creations to life on the giant wall. “The opportunity is open to all A&S Majors and Minors, not just Fine Arts students,” Perez says. Although many students choose to create UofL-themed murals, this is not a requirement; students are limited only by, as Willy Wonka would say, “pure imagination.” Case in point: Featured Artist for the week of 9/23, Kasey Edrington, is a freshman Psychology major who selected the animated miniseries Over the Garden Wall as her point of inspiration. Edrington, who usually sticks to pencil and ink, says the mural is the largest work she’s done yet and her first foray into chalk art since childhood. “I never knew how well it could blend or how fun it would be,” she says.
Kasey Edrington making art on the A&S Advising chalk board
The Featured Artist project works on multiple levels, serving as a rotating art exhibit seen daily by A&S Advising staff, who enjoy the opportunity to see their students showcase their talents. The Featured Artists themselves gain experience with a new medium and, with photos of each week’s mural disseminated via A&S Advising’s social media platforms, plenty of exposure and networking opportunities.
No one knows these opportunities better than Perez, who, after one of her Gardiner Hall creations was spotted by an employee of UofL Pediatrics, was commissioned to create a mural in their downtown office in 2017. This jumpstarted her professional art side hustle, and she’s been knocking out large murals and private commissions ever since. Not too shabby for someone who couldn’t see a future in art! To again quote Mr. Wonka, “there’s no earthly way of knowing what direction we are going,” but the A&S Featured Artist project has proven it can assist with clearing a path.