The Shorewood murals have been installed - yay!
A few months ago I was chosen along with 10 other local artists be part of a beautification project for the Village of Shorewood in Wisconsin. The concept, called "Signaling History" was organized by the Public Art Shorewood committee, and focused on decorating the metal utility boxes located at each intersection with a traffic light. The commission required that each work should incorporate the history of Shorewood, but otherwise the artists were free to create whatever they wanted. We were all provided access to the local historical society and archives to research Shorewood history.
Since my work of recent years has been inspired by antique family snapshots, the idea of incorporating photos of previous Shorewood generations dovetailed nicely into my area of interest. The corner I was working on is the site of two Shorewood elementary schools - Atwater Elementary Public School and St Robert's Parish and Grade School. My brother and I attended St Roberts, so I was very excited for my work to be installed on this corner.
At the historical society, I found a number of inspirational images. I took photos of at least 100 images, and when I got home I compiled several of those to arrive at the final composition. What made the cut were two class photos of Atwater school children from the 1950s plus an adorable photo of a young boy with his teacher that became the focal point of the piece.
The drawings are not meant to be portraits of specific people. My intent in using old photos as inspiration is to capture a particular time and/or place and to elicit a feeling or mood. I often will make changes to further this affectation. For this piece, I put some of the children in school uniforms and I also added some children of color to the design. These details are not true to the historical photos I was working from, but I wanted to be inclusive of the children of both schools and to also reflect the multicultural nature of Shorewood's current population. To place the composition on this specific corner of Shorewood, I added sketches of both of the schools into the background.
The signal box I was assigned had two flat adjacent sides so I decided to create a continuous composition that wrapped around the corner. In order to draw the eye from one side to the next, I added a device of colorful balloons blowing in the wind. I did the entire project in a digital format, from my iPad. This is a new technique I've been developing which worked perfectly for this project since the final murals were to be digitally printed onto substrate and then adhered to the utility boxes for installation.
The final work is meant to elicit the celebratory and nostalgic feelings of being a young student on the last day of school. The work is entitled "Remember the day...". Below are a few site photos.
A big thank you to Diane Buck who told me about this project, to the Village of Shorewood, Public Art Shorewood and the Shorewood Historical society. And an extra special thanks to Confluence Graphics in Shorewood - the printers and installers of the murals. The color turned out just as I'd envisioned it, and the join at the corner is barely perceptible. Awesome job!
For those who live in the area and would like to view this piece in person, it is located on the southwest corner of Maryland Avenue and Capitol Drive, in Shorewood, Wisconsin. And don't forget to drive through the village and check out the other artists' work as well. Each intersection with traffic lights now has a mural installed on the utility box! 😀