APS Students Contribute to Public Art at UA

Art Bomb!
Posted on 09/08/2021
Image of Schrank Hall Ground Mural(Megan Becka for Cleveland.com)

The Art Bomb Brigade, an Akron-based mural arts and education program, unveiled its first-ever ground mural Thursday at The University of Akron’s Schrank Hall South courtyard.

The mural, “Courtyard Collaboration,” was painted in the courtyard, which sits atop a parking deck. The project was done in partnership with Arts LIFT, a program that pairs Akron Public Schools high school students with professional artists, and The University of Akron College of Engineering and Polymer Science.

The Art Bomb Brigade painted the mural, and Arts LIFT completed the landscape design for the space.

“It’s massive – we covered like 90 percent of the courtyard with the mural,” said Art Bomb Brigade co-creator Marissa McClellan, who was the lead artist for the project. “I designed it keeping in mind the entire project was this cool landscape revision of the space. And I designed it to look like cascading ripples of water coming out from the main center bed because we know plants need water to grow. So the idea was that the water (in the mural) was going to help the courtyard flourish with the plants in the landscape the Arts LIFT students did.”

McClellan hopes the finished space encourages people to sit and talk, work, or meet new people.

The project started in mid-June and was finished by early July. “We’re high velocity, we like to get in and get out,” McClellan said.

But the project posed challenges for the Art Bomb Brigade.

“Because we never did a ground mural before, we weren’t exactly sure how to do it. It seems like you could just start painting on the ground but there are a lot of variables to keep in mind. The weather is beating down on it all the time, so we had to figure out what kind of primer and paints to use to withstand that,” she said. “We also had to be really on top of the weather for this project, more so than we normally would.”

Materials and paints were difficult to get because of the pandemic, McClellan added.

The project was funded by Arts LIFT, an initiative of the Lola Isra Charitable trust, The University of Akron College of Engineering and Polymer Science, and the Art Bomb Brigade.

“The Art Bomb Brigade brings the university’s presence brightly into Akron’s neighborhoods, and we’re thrilled they brought that inspiration to our campus,” University of Akron President Gary Miller said in a news release. “Our community can enjoy a wall mural completed last fall in Bierce Library and now this summer a ground mural in the Schrank Hall courtyard. Like all their work, these murals were executed by a highly successful design team of University of Akron students and alumni experienced in working with community partners to create large-scale imagery that reflects, connects with and enhances the physical landscapes and built environments.”

In addition to McClellan, project participants include Art Bomb Brigade co-creator and director Elisa Gargarella (who is also the director of Arts LIFT) and Elise Helms. Arts LIFT Assistant Director Dan Coffield also helped with the project.

Art Bomb volunteers for the project include: Megan Delong, Natalie Gallucci, Samantha Fazio, Abigail Cipar, Eileen Matias, Arlie Holman and Nicole Shoenfelt.

Art Bomb Brigade was created in 2016 with support from the Knight Foundation. The organization employs University of Akron students and alumni. The Art Bomb Brigade has completed more than 25 murals for the city, including the Downtown Laundromat, Barberton Library, Community Support Services of Summit County, Chill Ice Cream Company, the Akron Sustainer, Echogen and in Akron’s Historic Arts and Cultural District. The organization is supported on an ongoing basis by the Knight Foundation, the Akron Community Foundation, the GAR Foundation and The University of Akron Myers School of Art.
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