Students of Associate Professor Michael Sevick’s ART 366 class learn about the history and techniques of mural painting and then undertake one or two projects that will be featured in the Flint community. The students work with their “clients” to establish themes, present designs, and select a final direction for the project before they being painting. For the Spring 2015 semester, Sevick’s class created one large mural for the Genesee County Health Department and individual panels featuring dogs to be placed on buildings along S. Saginaw Street, south of downtown.
The Health Department mural will be featured in the lobby of their McCree South building in Burton. Says Suzanne Cupal, Public Health Supervisor, “We shared a great deal of information about public health and the work we do at the health department then asked the question ‘What does a healthy community look like?’ The design the students came up with is inspiring. The day and night and the contrast in the main image reflect the diversity of our community. Public health addresses the environment, personal health, community health, and so much more. The design captures that. You see the healthy eating, you see active living, you see the environment including our animal friends. All of these things play a role in the health of our community. The design will add color and a unique cultural context to our lobby area. We are appreciative of the skills and passion the students have brought to this project.”
When asked about working on murals and adding her art to the city of Flint, alum and guest artist Elizabeth Sevick said, “I love working large scale, especially in the community. It instills a sense of pride. I think being connected to your artwork and the city is very important; it’s something that isn’t necessarily a focus all of the time, but it should be. The revitalization of Flint starts here – it starts with art and community pride.”
Ms. Sevick, who plans to be a professional artist, is proud of her roots in both the city and the university: “I love UM-Flint. I am UM-Flint. It’s definitely one of the mottos that I hold dear to me. Without the university and the wonderful professors in the university I would not be where I am today. I would not be where I am going next: I’m getting ready to start graduate school in the fall and I owe it all to UM-Flint. For an artist, there is an infinite amount of value [in getting a degree in the liberal arts]. For me, the value of this education is priceless. To be able to play with paint all my life and make a career out of it is just the greatest thing I could ever imagine. I’m really excited for the journey, where it’s led me so far and where it will continue to lead me.”
While the GCHD mural will beautify the inside of a building, the panels of dogs will be displayed outside for passersby and drivers to see. The students were able to create their individual panels with their own styles and subjects. Some chose to create realistic images and others imaginative representations. These panels especially had the students explore the unique challenges of working on such big pieces meant to be viewed from far away.
When asked about this portion of the semester’s projects, Associate Professor Sevick said, “The dog panel project is a continuation of the Saginaw Street Corridor of Murals, reflecting my philosophy of implementing community beautification activities. The site is located on the east side of Saginaw Street, north of Atherton Road. The three buildings, which the mural panels will be attached to, are located there. The buildings and courtyard project high visibility and reflect UM-Flint’s commitment to community beautification. Working toward the achievement of a common artistic goal allowed students to shift their understanding of each other and, more importantly, learn about themselves.”
To learn more about Visual Arts at UM-Flint and the ways in which our student artists engage in their community, visit their website.