Technology and Art Collide in Keating’s New Mural

Written By: Blythe Freshwater / Photography by: Jonathan Coleman

Maggie Wince is a senior Graphic Design major, and she has done a lot of cool projects in her college career. But what you may not know is that she has been working on a digital art mural for the past two and a half years. This week she finally was able to see the fruit of her labors come to life.

The 50-foot mural in the hallway of upper Keating highlights the interrelatedness of logic and art, of analytics and creativity, and of business and design. Maggie said, “I wanted to create something that connects the business school with the communications department. We always have wanted the Keating Center to be a cohesive place of ideas and inspiration. So, we created this piece of art to remind us that we can have the connectivity of modern technology but still have the creativity of artists.”

The wallpaper with Maggie’s new design took about 5 hours to put up on Friday, September 21, but the labor was certainly more cost-effective than bringing in professionals. The wallpapering team also had some fun as well, eating doughnuts and cracking jokes with each other. When asked how difficult it was to put up, Evan Hewitt, professor for Communication Arts, said, “On a scale of 1-10, this project was definitely an 11. But Prof. Pendergraff thought we would totally be able to do it ourselves.” While working on the troublesome fifth piece, Matt Pendergraff, Media Strategy and Design professor, said, “I’m still highly confident in our abilities. We’re going to get this thing done today.” And so they did.

Maggie said the hardest part of designing the project was the time spent on it. She said, “It’s my brain child, and I’m super proud of it, but a serious amount of work went into it. It’s fun to see the difference in the design from when I started to the finished product. Like, I put the piano keyboard on the right side first, and the compass in the left side. There was a lot of frustration and joy in this project; all last year, it was a struggle for me to design the brain correctly. But perseverance finally came through.”

This piece is important for several reasons. The first being, of course, that it highlights a talented artist’s work. But the others are subtler: in the humanities department, the teachers are trying to bring art back as a way of life. Prof. Hewitt said, “My overarching thought for the piece: I love it. It’s beautiful. And I hope we see many more wonderful works of art at OKWU, because we have been in sore need of it. This mural is a statement piece. We’ve broken ground today, and we’re crossing the threshold of a new era.”

Prof. Hewitt went on to explain that in the Protestant Reformation, there was a move away from art because reformers were protesting the icon worship of Catholicism. He said, “We still don’t want to worship images, but unfortunately that movement carried way down through church history with art being associated with idolatry. In recent times, we have moved back into an era of embracing art. Old habits, however, die hard and they linger in the community, and still some are concerned that art could draw our attention away from God. I don’t think that holds up to a Christian worldview, because we are reflecting the image of God by creativity. God didn’t make a beige world. In exploring our own creativity and redeeming aspects of culture, we are being shaped more and moreinto Christ’s likeness.”

Prof. Pendergraff said, “This is ultimately masterful refrigerator door art. Part of the goal for this art was to remind people of childhood creativity. When we’re little, we create without abandon, but as we grow, sometimes we lose it. We want our artists and business people to get inspired to tap into and to get back into a child’s mind, where you have nothing to lose. So, we’re going to support Maggie’s work by putting it on the walls and reminding others to just create too.” Maggie and Prof. Hewitt agreed on the statement of the mural, that there can be all sorts of creativity in business or math, and they don’t have to be divorced from the “art” side of life. Prof. Hewitt said, “Even though we have two sides [of the mural], it’s one cohesive piece. It’s one brain– just like we have different people but one Church–this piece is all about unity and creativity.”