Mercyhurst art students have been working on a 1,000-square-foot mural at the Erie Zoo for the last three months. Currently, six out of 10 5-by-5-foot squares have been completed, with plans for finishing the mural in the next few weeks.
The artists, known as the “zoo crew,” were assigned a different box to illustrate specific groups of animals.
Senior Darlene Fahmey’s focus was on North American animals, including polar bears, eagles, buzzards, owls and a frog.
“My favorite part of the mural is the polar bears, which are drawn from a picture that I took of the zoo’s actual polar bears,” Fahmey said.
“Being constantly splattered in paint and covering a giant wall with my design was a really great experience. The fact that my artwork will be up for a long time for children to see every day makes me even happier that I did this” junior Samantha Williams, who is also involved in the project, said.
The mural, which is in the classrooms at the Zoo, gives children, adults and the community a chance to enjoy and appreciate the art work.
The impact this mural has had on the children is especially important to senior Elizabeth Morningstar.
“My favorite part of the project has been the kid’s reactions. Many times I have been painting in the hallway while one of the zoo classes is going on, and it is great to hear what the little kids have to say when they walk through,” Morningstar said.
“It puts a smile on my face when they recognize the animals, and it really solidifies the importance of this project when this happens because I know it will be a great teaching tool for the kids.”
Although all students involved in this project have expressed great pride in their work and the project as a whole, this does not mean that the path to completing the mural was an easy one.
“This has not been an easy job. Painting on brick in a solid color is very tough, and we had to paint animals, which require a lot of time and patience,” senior Diana Bockhahn said.
“I am sure that I have put in over 100 hours of work with the prep, organization, and actual painting. Combine that with all the painting of the two dozen people that have also worked on the project, and I would say that there has easily been over 1,000 hours of work,” Morningstar said.
The work has been difficult and the hours long, but Mercyhurst art students understand the importance of their work.
“I’m really proud of the work that has been done on the mural. In the beginning, it was hard to know what to expect as an end result, but all of the students involved really made this project a priority and have given a lot of time to make the murals look great,” junior Meredith Stalker said.
“The students involved really stepped up to do a wonderful job, and I think that shows commitment to the community that we are immersed in here at school. As art students, we want the community to see and understand how important it is for everyone to have the opportunity to be creative,” she said.
Because students enjoyed their work so much, future plans have been made to do another mural.
“The art education club is already looking at some other places that would love to have a mural, and perhaps there will be another mural project next year in another part of Erie,” Morningstar said.
“My hope is if we do find another project similar to this next year, we can get more people involved from the other art clubs on campus. We have a lot of talent here at Mercyhurst, and it would be nice to get more people involved,” Stalker added.
“As a freshman, I am still new to the whole college experience. This mural project made me feel like I was a part of something important and I have loved every minute of it,” Carli Renee Hatfield said.
“I would like the Mercyhurst community to know that their art education club has worked very hard on this mural and we are all very proud of each other for volunteering in this project,” Hatfield said.