KOKOMO, Ind. – There’s nothing quite like painting for an audience.
Along the Industrial Heritage Trail in downtown Kokomo, eight students have worked through the heat of summer to create a mural. They’ve been surprised by the number of people who have stopped to ask questions or compliment their work.
“We’ve already had people stop and speak about how wonderful it looks, and it’s not even done,” said Jon Reshkus, who designed the mural for the community art projects class. “That has made me feel so accomplished already, and given me a sense of pride and joy at the same time.”
Each student in the class, taught by Minda Douglas, associate professor of fine arts, created a design for the 150 by 12-foot space, just across Jefferson Street from the bustling Depot District. Representatives from the City of Kokomo and its parks and recreation department selected Reshkus’ design, an abstract featuring brightly-colored geometric shapes.
“They are learning to work together towards a common goal of completing a professional mural, and the value of hard physical work,” said Douglas.
Reshkus, from Denver, chose to create an abstract design after noticing there weren’t many murals of that type already existing in Kokomo.
Since early June, students have worked on transferring the design from a digital image to the wall, on the back of a vacant building. They spent three nights outlining it, projecting the image and outlining it in black wax crayon. Then began the time-consuming work of filling it in with exterior paint, formulated to hold up against the elements.
The work continued despite the mid-July humidity and heat wave, with students meeting in later afternoon or early evening to avoid the worst of the weather.
Frannie Ruedin painstakingly brushed black paint onto the wall, filling in the outline between sections of purple and orange, while Larkin Stephens-Avery, Peru, perched on a ladder nearby, painting nearer to the roof. Ruedin, from Wisconsin, noted that every class member commits to 120 hours of work, with the goal of being done by the time the summer session ends.
“I’ve never worked with paint this much. It’s been neat to see the different types of paint,” she said, because she usually focuses on graphic design. “I’ve never worked on anything this large, and I’ve enjoyed working with other students and learning from the techniques they use.”
Reshkus walks the length of the work, checking on progress, before picking up a brush and beginning to paint a section of lemony yellow.
He’s excited to see the project completed in the next few weeks.
“This is going to be here for a long time,” he said. “I’m going to be happy, and hopefully everybody else is happy with the work they did. It’s truly been a group effort.
“You don’t meet a lot of people in life who can say they painted a mural.”
Additional students participating include Emily Matthews, Westfield; Monika Ness and Sienna Urbina, Logansport; and Raelee Puckett-Sharpless and Makenzie Quinn, Kokomo.
Students plan to complete the mural in early August.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.