Students and faculty in the MSU Department of Art, Art History and Design are in the process of painting a colorful mural titled “The Groovy Opportunity” on the back of the parking structure at the corner of Division Street and Albert Avenue. The mural will align with the East Lansing Art Festival, which will take place May 18 and May 19.
Benjamin Duke — a professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design — pitched the project proposal to city officials and gained approval to paint the mural.
“We started with this very loose idea of a design that we wanted to do for the space. Benjamin Duke came with this mantra, this idea, that life is a groovy opportunity, and this became our catchphrase during our design process,” Hector Acuna, project member, said.
Working on the mural is a volunteer, collaborative effort by Benjamin Duke, Trent Call, Hector Acuna, Emily Somoskey, Andrew Somoskey, Peter Schutt, Kiel Darling and Meghan McCall.
The group came together about two months ago to brainstorm design ideas, and all were encouraged by Duke to create their own, individual contributions to the project.
“It’s this imaginative and realistic representation of East Lansing and the community,” Acuna said. “We wanted the mood to be very optimistic and positive, so we tried to bring in these really groovy elements that use a lot of poppy colors and vibrance.”
During the developing stages, the group combined each other’s work and addressed how to advance the design. The group completed the first part of the design process with pencil and paper. They would then bring their sketchbooks to their meeting and compile everything into a larger drawing.
Andrew Somoskey led the digital aspect of the design process. Each sketch went into Photoshop, where the team outlined the main structural elements of the design.
“We had probably three or four meetings where we just, as a team, sat in front of a projector and talked about design choices and color choices, which was nice to be able to have a digital space to create a think tank as a team,” Acuna said.
They collaborated on the design for a few weeks. In those collaborative sessions, the group digitally superimposed the images on the wall to better conceptualize the outcome of the design.
Emily Somoskey, a graduate student in studio art, designed the house showcased in the mural. She said she typically makes oil paintings and mixed media art, but this is the first mural she has ever worked on.
“We get a chance to pursue our own studio work pretty much full-time, along with teaching a class, so this was just an extra thing we decided to do,” Somoskey said. “Kind of branch out a little bit; try something new.”
The painters have been working off and on in hopes to finish the mural by the end of the East Lansing Art Festival, Somoskey said.
“It’s new for us, for sure,” Acuna said. “That was one of the main things that we started talking about when this whole project began was this idea of making something that would bring people to a halt and take them out of their everyday experience and give them something fresh and inspiring to look at.”