Students Design, Install Public Works Piece in Silver City

Students in a Western New Mexico University painting and drawing class begin work on a mural near the Silver City MainStreet Plaza.

© Western New Mexico University

Jennifer Douglass’ painting and drawing students at Western New Mexico University are learning about the process of public art while creating a mural design that ties in the university’s values of education, conservation and recreation. They began installation of the mural at the end of May.

After an invitation from Diana Ingalls Leyba, who is Director of Silver City’s Youth Mural Program, WNMU students began the process of designing a mural for a wall at The Church of the Southwest. Considering the site borders the Silver City MainStreet Plaza and sits just above downtown’s Big Ditch Park, a riparian design concept was presented to the Historic Design and Review Committee, and the mural permit was granted.

“We wanted to handle it just like a public art piece, where the students must take the idea from start to finish — doing initial research and developing the mural from the design concept through completion,” said Douglass, who is Assistant Professor Painting/Drawing in the WNMU Expressive Arts Department.

The class members’ research into the flora and fauna of southwest riparian habitats has been facilitated by WNMU botany professor Dr. Bill Norris and USFS biologist Dustin Myers.

With Jennifer Douglass as the mural’s facilitating artist, guide and mentor, students presented their mural design to the building owners, Executive Director of Silver City MainStreet/Arts & Cultural District Charmeine Wait and Ingalls Leyba for feedback and approval.

Now, with approval from all parties, the students are concluding their project by painting the mural they designed. This week, the began to sketch the design onto the wall, and painting will continue over the coming weeks.

“Funded by the Town of Silver City, the project so far has allowed the students to simultaneously learn foundation principles in drawing and painting while directly using their skills to design and create a public art piece,” Douglass said.

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