Students in ‘immersive’ learning program install mural in downtown Dayton

Students at The Miami Valley School are being immersed in art in a big way.

On May 15, the students installed a mural on the side of Mudlick Tap House in downtown Dayton. Their multi-panel mural, which took about a week to paint, depicts a 1930s newspaper featuring iconic pieces of Dayton history including the restaurant itself.

The students painted panels of parachute cloth to create the mural, a technique learned in January during their visit to Mural Arts Philadelphia, an art collective in the “Mural Capital of the World.” Miami Valley School instructor Linda Hallinan said the technique allowed the group of nine to work on the mural in batches, particularly creating the piece during the winter to avoid having students use a scissor lift.

“In Philadelphia, they have a really cool program,” said instructor Elliot Ward. “They bring (the cloth mural method) into schools, jails and nursing homes. It’s a new method of installing artwork and it gets the community involved.”

During the installation, students Archer Yuan, Lucia Skalicky Luqui, Molly Van Kirk-Butler, Madison Coffee, Sahij Kaur and Julia Nielsen painted adhesive onto the backs of the mural panels. They passed the panels to Hallinan and Ward, who aligned and placed the panels along the side of the building on a scissor lift.

The project stemmed from the school’s immersion method of instruction where students become involved in different experiential learning opportunities throughout the year.

“Everyone gets assigned one topic in depth per month, and (each group) does different activities,” Coffee said. “For us, we were learning about murals and how art ignites change in communities, so this is our mural.”

Coffee said the group collectively worked on painting the mural for about five or six hours each day. Incorporating the cloth method allowed them to take turns working on the project when they had time.

The students worked with Mudlick Tap House to workshop ideas for the mural and came up with the historical newspaper. The whole project came from a collaboration between the restaurant, the school, CareSource, Downtown Dayton Partnership and Mural Arts of Philadelphia.

The entire group is excited about the mural and the process from conception to installation.

“It’s just weird to see it on the side of the building because we had it on the floor for so long,” Nielsen said. “Now it’s actually all put together.”

“It’s the first time we’re seeing it all together, rather than on the floor and looking at it from a bird’s eye view,” Van Kirk-Butler added.

None of the students had ever completed an art piece on such a scale. Ward shared he had great pride in seeing the students work displayed in such a large way.

The mural can be seen on the east wall of Mudlick Tap House, located at 135 E Second St. Dayton.

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