The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Library mural depicts Kutztown life


By lmitchell@berksmontnews.com">Lisa Mitchell, Patriot Editorlmitchell@berksmontnews.com

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kutztown Community Library now showcases a new mural on its back wall.
“The design incorporates things from all different parts of our community,” said Lisa Schnell, of Maxatawny, who coordinated the painting of the mural.
“We’re trying to involve the community as much as possible,” said Schnell during the painting on Thursday afternoon.
Only the second day of painting and already the mural was growing before their eyes.
About 30 community volunteers lent a paint brush during the four-day painting process Aug. 14 to 17.
“We are all working on a volunteer basis,” said Schnell, who had worked with students to paint a world map mural during her time with the Peace Corps in Ghana.
Volunteers included community members, Kutztown School District students, and Kutztown University students and professors.
“It’s site specific,” said KU Communication Design professor Kevin McCloskey. “It relates to Kutztown and it belongs here.”
McCloskey pointed out the design elements, like the Keith Haring figures to represent a famous artist from the area, the agricultural represented by the corn fields, the University buildings, the hawk representing Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the library, and a distelfink.
KU Communication Design professor Kate Claire, a Fleetwood resident who visits the Kutztown Library at least once a week, said this is a great project for herself and her daughter, Sasha Joseph, age 10.
“For me it was very important she take part in this effort and get a sense of building community and giving back to the library, which gives us so much,” said Claire. “I see this as the perfect Town & Gown coming together. We have faculty helping to paint the wall, as well as community members. I think it is a real win-win situation for everyone.”
KU senior art education student Amber Sheetz, Allentown, said her favorite part of being involved was meeting different people that “would’nt be thrown together normally. It’s nice to have elementary school students, people in college, professors at the University, community members. It’s just been fun to be able to work together and see how the project has progressed.”
One Kutztown resident lent her experience with large paintings. About 20 years ago Diana Johansson used to paint billboards for a living. Involved in the library, she offered to assist.
“It’s just wonderful how the community is coming together and painting so well as a group. This is tremendous,” said the former billboard painter Johansson.
The mural came about as the result of the Library wanting to replace the mural that had been painted on the back wall facing Constitution Boulevard.
“Renovations, weather and time took its toll and the search for a new design was launched,” said Janet Yost, library director.
The library was selected to participate in the 8th Kutztown University Annual Designathon for non-profit organizations. In April, KU Communication Design students created the design specific to Kutztown and the library. The design was created at no fee to the library.
Schnell coordinated the project. During her time with the Peace Corps in Ghana, she worked with students to paint a world map mural.
In July, the wall was pressure washed and primed. Mural paint was ordered and purchased by the Friends of the Kutztown Community Library.
“During the second week of August, Lisa and Steven Schnell led a team of local artists wielding black permanent markers to transfer the design to the wall,” wrote Yost.
The wall is more than 19 feet high at the peak and 44 feet long.
KU professors McCloskey, Claire, Margarita Melinda, and Diana Johansson were able to tweak the design slightly to fit the wall and add a few local elements not in the original design, said Yost.
Community members donated some of the supplies, such as the use of the scaffolding, brushes, and tarps. An open invitation was extended to anyone in the community to help paint.