By Abby Goers, UW-Stout
Seventeen students in the new Graffiti and Street Art course celebrated the unveiling of the first mural on University of Wisconsin-Stout’s campus on June 2.
Joined by Chancellor Katherine Frank; Provost Glendalí Rodriguez; Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack; course instructors Professor Cynthia Bland and Lecturer Wade Lambrigtsen; and supporters from the university and area community, the class revealed its mural on the Applied Arts Building east loading dock wall.
A wash of cool blue hues, warm sandy tones and creamy oranges depict art through the ages and capture the rich culture that flourishes inside the building.
Frank expressed her pride and gratitude for the “exceptional vision, persistence and energy of Cynthia and Wade to launch a new course that has produced a lasting impact on the university. This mural signifies what it means to be ‘Made at Stout’ and sets our educational experience apart from others.
“We teach students how to move from ideation to production and enact the collaboration among stakeholders – in this case, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members – that leads to meaningful contributions to the larger community.”
Frank added that the mural opens up the possibility for additional collaborations and praised the Campus Art Committee, chaired by Bland, for considering ways to support equity, diversity and inclusion efforts through future projects, aligning with UW-Stout’s FOCUS 2030 goals.
“You should be proud of your work and the lasting impact it will have on campus,” she said to the student artists.
Knaack added that he believes “UW-Stout makes Menomonie a super cool city,” as he expressed his thankfulness for the university and the city’s cohesive relationship.
He asked, “What would Menomonie be without Stout? And what would Stout be without Menomonie? This is the kick off of more to come.”
First student-designed mural
Although it is not the first mural in the UW System, the Graffiti and Street Art mural, 40 feet long and 10 feet high, is the first student-designed mural to grace the walls of a UW System campus.
Designed by four School of Art and Design students during the spring semester, it took students in the course three weeks to prepare and paint the wall, using more than $800 worth of materials, including primer, base coat, paint and brushes.
Bland, art and art history department chair, praised her students for their “tireless efforts to complete the mural. It is part of the legacy and history of art at the university.”
After learning the professional process of mural painting, the class cleaned and prepared the wall, primed it and applied a basecoat. Students worked into the evenings, using a projector to trace the design onto the wall, working around and behind maple trees that line the loading dock.
As the projector light wouldn’t pass through the thick foliage, they used Michelangelo's pouncing technique to poke dots into the stenciling paper to mark the wall behind the trees. They did so with an Electro Pounce machine invented in 1961, Bland explained.
They were to begin painting on May 25, but needed to postpone a day because of the weather, battling rain and fighting time to complete their nearly 400 square foot painting before the unveiling.
Lambrigtsen, a UW-Stout alum and owner of Vintage Sign Shop, thought “this was a wonderful opportunity to teach, to share knowledge and artwork around this beautiful campus.
“It took a lot of hard work and determination, and I think we learned that not every mural is going to be a breeze,” he said. “This is about the students. This is their legacy. They can say, ‘We did this,’ and they can go out into other communities with the knowledge to produce more murals.”
Students who completed the painting are:
Ariel Ben-Ami, graphic design and interactive media, Fitchburg
Emily Bethell, interior design, Glenwood City
Megan Brochtrup, interior design, Appleton
Sophia Burgess, game design and development-art, Fall Creek
Kayla Daninger, interior design, Minneapolis
Erica Halvorson, game design and development-art, Columbus
Emma Hawley, interior design, Somerset
Ben Hendrix, entertainment design, Beaver Dam
Byeonghyeon Hwang, entertainment design, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Sara Johnson, game design and development-art, Eau Claire
Elizabeth Kelly, industrial design, Grafton
Camile Lemm, game design and development-art, Chanhassen, Minn.
Sierra Loew, graphic design and interactive media, Marshfield
Allie Lubahn, interior design, Grand Meadow, Minn.
Evan Mancl, applied social science, Eau Claire
Bree Marconnet, studio art, Waterloo
Jessie Schwandt, studio art, Madison
Lubahn has been working with Lambrigtsen for two years at Vintage Sign Shop. They’ve painted several murals and signs together around Menomonie and the surrounding area.
“It has been extremely rewarding to be a part of the campus mural experience,” she said. “The Graffiti and Street Art class was a change of pace from what I am used to at the shop. I hope this opportunity opens the door for more students to be involved in the arts and to integrate art in the community.”
Marconnet was among the group of four SOAD student designers. When they originally created the mural characters on the computer, the characters were smaller than their hand on the screen.
“Now many of them are taller than me. It’s pleasing to see and to explore the mural,” Marconnet said. “Applied Arts is such a concrete building. We were able to express the creativity happening on the inside.”
As an applied social science major, Mancl is studying sociology and the humanities. The class has brought him a better understanding of art history.
“Art is extremely important when looking back and viewing humanity through time. It is vital to understanding societies,” he said. “Art is proof of history – like watching a black and white TV show before color film to know how technology changed. Art proves history happened.”
Mancl had not picked up a paint brush since the seventh grade, remembering that his teacher then was not very happy with his painting, he joked.
“This course has given me the knowledge to be comfortable and confident in the painting process and has given me an understanding of the professional process of mural painting,” he said. “Cynthia and Wade are helping to drive back the stigma that you can’t make a living doing art.
“Approve this class again. Keep it going,” Mancl encouraged the university.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.