June 26, 2024
On Campus

From Loading Dock to Work of Art

Professor-led mural project creates vibrant visual outside Benham-Pence Student Center

Sprucing up the Wittenberg campus is not just about landscaping, trees, flowers, and buildings; it’s also about infusing new life into less-than-lively spaces such as a loading dock.

That’s the spot Gypsy Schindler, assistant professor of art, and two art majors are keenly focused on this summer. Together, the trio has been working on an intricate mural, transforming the walls surrounding the Benham-Pence Student Center loading dock into a dynamic artistic vision.

“The idea is to beautify that area of the building since it is right in front of the parking lot and next to a main entrance,” said Schindler, who was asked by President Michael Frandsen, Ph.D., to do the mural. “That area is used a lot by the enrolled student body, new and prospective students and their families, as well [as guests] attending public events scheduled in the building, so it has a lot of potential for visual representation and general liveliness.”

Already making an impact on campus through her bubbly personality and exciting artwork, Schindler is also a musician, poet, writer, teacher, speaker, and storyteller. Beginning her second year at Wittenberg, she earned her BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design and her MFA from Eastern Michigan University. One of her specialties is murals.

Throughout the mural, Schindler will be mixing a traditional time-honored style of painting with more stylized and contemporary techniques. Included on the mural will be iconic Wittenberg buildings and landmarks, including Myers Hall and the Kissing Bridge as a nod to the journey that students take in their time at Wittenberg. There will also be a flow through the seasons of the background of the Ohio landscape.

“The idea was sparked from a painting that is in the entryway of President Frandsen’s house,” Schindler said. “President Frandsen and his wife, Sharon, have a lot of fantastic art in their house, and in the entryway is a painting of a tiger that is owned by the University. It is a very refined and sensitive image that reminded me of Ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Korean paintings and woodcuts. So, I started with that, and it remained one of the signature elements.”

Schindler said that mural painting is popular these days, so she is hoping that this project will lead to more professor-student collaborations on campus.

“There are many avenues a project can go down. I’m working on a possible FIRE Week project right now in collaboration with librarian Amanda McLellan, and someday it could be a class if enough students are interested. It all depends on the project,” she said. “However, outside murals are limited to summer weather. One thing to know is that a mural project takes months of preparation. It is not something that can be done quickly. The larger the mural, the longer it takes. This one took about nine months from conception to start date,” said Schindler, who previously executed and directed a team of 17 apprentices to complete the Artworks Mural at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a 10,000-square-foot mural that finished in the Fall of 2022.

For this project, Schindler has two assistant mural painters in current students Hanna Haddix, class of 2025, an art major and education minor; and Molly Kirkpatrick (MK), class of 2026, an art major and English minor. Both students are from Springfield, Ohio, and decided to work on the mural as a summer job. Schindler is hoping that the project will be completed by the end of July, depending on the weather.

“My two student workers are getting paid for their time, as well as getting some fantastic, real-world job experience,” Schindler said. “Mural painting is huge right now. There is a mural company in almost every major city in the United States, as well as globally. It is but one of many full-time careers that an artist who focuses on painting can have. Within the mural painting industry, there are CEOs, designers, project managers, fundraisers, community outreach coordinators, administrators, supply companies, workshop directors, apprentice teachers, lead mural painters, and assistant mural painters, just to name a few positions. Assistant mural painters are often where people start.

“If you see Hanna and MK, please give them a pat on the back. Mural painters have been given the nickname of ‘Wall Dog’ because painting a mural is very, very hard physical work. You work like a dog, and it is not for the faint of heart. Both Hanna and Molly are super hardworking and after this mural, they will have earned the ‘Wall Dog’ nickname for sure,” Schindler added.

Stop by weekly and see the progress this trio has made. A full reveal is also being planned for when the project is officially completed.

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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