Student’s design comes to life in mural painted by Bethel community members

in Culture Arts & Lifestyle/News by

The Advanced Painting class hosted a Painting Party in the Makerspace for students to piece together sophomore graphic design student Thanh Nguyen’s vision.  

By Emma Harville

Art students Lauren Cosby and Megan Olson grip their paint brushes as they layer hues of blue paint over the geometric shapes formed by carefully laid blue Scotch tape. Other students kneel on the plastic-covered floor and climb ladders to reach the top of the 16’ mural in the library’s Makerspace Monday night. Students who wander in are greeted by Cosby, Olson, and other students of  professor Amanda Hamilton’s Advanced Painting class, and are encouraged to grab a paint bucket, brush, and get to work.

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Senior art student Megan Olson works on a portion of the mural painting in the Makerspace. The “Painting Party” was hosted by the Advanced Painting class, but any and all students were invited to participate in the installation of the mural. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

Thanh Nguyen, a sophomore graphic design student, designed this mural when she entered a juried competition in Fall 2018 open to all art and design students at Bethel. The committee included Kent Gerber from the Makerspace, as well as various art and design professors. Nguyen’s design attracted them because of its unique qualities and intrigue.

“It’s dynamic, it’s high-contrast. It doesn’t feel particularly gendered,” Hamilton said. “It had to do double-duty as a mural, but also as a design element in graphic design pieces, so we felt that worked really well.”

Although Nguyen is not a painter, she is excited to share her art with the Bethel Community. Her mom a nail technician and her dad a craftsman, Nguyen has “always had a love for art” and could not see herself doing anything else. She took about two to three days to develop a vision for the design, and it took off from there.

“I was just kind of messing around with the shapes and I knew I wanted to make something geometrical, just something that everyone can try to relate to,” Nguyen said. “It’s really awesome… We need hands to do this, and I think everyone coming in and painting definitely brings us together like a community.”

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A small-scale template for the mural designed by Nguyen that was installed on the walls of the Makerspace Monday night. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

It was important for Hamilton to give her class the opportunity to use art to reach out to a community and experience the energy of a collaborative effort, and Nguyen’s design for the mural provided that.  

“My thought was, if these painters can have the experience of learning how to do this, and then also host other people on campus, that then allows them to have the experience as kind of a model of ‘I could do this in my communities if I wanted to,’” Hamilton said.

In the future, Nguyen hopes to work more with poster design and eventually textiles and patterns, recreating pieces and putting them on canvases.

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Nguyen works on a portion of the mural she designed that was installed in the Makerspace. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

“I don’t know where I’m going with the design program yet, but I know that I love patterns and I want to expand on that,” Nguyen said.

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