Student mural seeks to give back to community, offers experience in commissioning art

Nov. 2, 2015

Hannah Harvey
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Art is considered an outlet for creativity, but it can also serve as a way to give back to the community.

Seven students in VAPA instructor Nikki Pike’s art and democracy class are collaborating with Dream Catchers, a non-profit organization in Colorado Springs that serves adults with intellectual disabilities, to create a wheat-pasting mural.

On Nov. 6, the unveiling of the mural will start at 6 p.m. at Dream Catchers, located at 103 Wahsatch Ave. The wheat-pasting mural event will be alongside the gallery’s First Friday art opening.

The mural is being pasted on the side of the Dream Catchers building and contains a color scheme proposed by student Robert Stokes with designs by students Kalinka Caldas Premawardhana and Natalie Roberts.

These students will receive a stipend for their work.

The three designers did not originally work together to create the concept of the project.

“There were two different projects presented to us and I thought the mural would be a good way to show the art that’s around,” Caldas Premawardhana said.

“The concept behind those particular pieces is we combined two of the students’ artwork into a forest on the right that’s seemingly dead…and then it bursts into the growth that you can see at Dream Catchers,” said Stephanie Von Fange, creative director for Dream Catchers and 2014 UCCS alumna.

“The trees are ‘alive’ trees; some represent relationships. The bush represents the child while a tree represents adulthood,” Caldas Premawardhana said.

Students in Pike’s class each submitted an individual design for the mural. These designs were then reviewed by Dream Catcher’s board of directors.

Other students involved include Ian Alexandrowicz, Rachel Carpenter, Sara Cofield, Alison Harano, Michael Teske and Antonio Castaneda.

“[The class] deals a lot with social practice, which typically involves people outside of art,” said Cofield, senior VAPA major.

“[We are] also just learning how to interact with the general public when you’re trying to work with art,” said Carpenter, senior VAPA minor.

The mural acts as a social art project. According to Pike, social art seeks to bring art into the community beyond the gallery.

“The students are gaining a real-life public art experience. An unnoticeable wall is made beautiful.”

The mural takes after the approaches of street art, something that used to be seen as criminal, but people are now warming up to the idea of accepting artwork on their buildings.

“Being a UCCS alumni, I wanted to enable a connection between students and the local art scene,” Von Fange said.

Von Fange said the mural enables the Dream Catchers building as a landmark due to the aesthetically pleasing design and positive outreach behind it.

“[The mural] encourages that partnership between businesses and students and encourages the growth in the arts economy by employing artists,” she said.