The newly painted mural on the back of Rudae’s School of Beauty is hard to miss. With its vibrant shades of pink, orange and yellow, the mural is a welcoming sight to those who pass by it as they bike or walk along the nearby Industrial Trail.
The 150-foot-long painting is the result of a partnership with Indiana University Kokomo Professor Minda Douglas’ Community Arts Projects class, the City of Kokomo and the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.
It’s the second year that such a mural has been created by Douglas’ students. Last summer, her class also painted a mural on the side of the Bucheri McCarty and Metz LLP building overlooking the Jaime’s Soda Fountain parking lot downtown.
“This class is set up like an internship,” Douglas said. “Like most internships, the students have to spend 120 hours doing something for the class. As a professor, I don’t want my students to work for free or do something that isn’t for credit. So I thought we could really tackle two birds with one stone so to speak and create a class where the students are working for free but getting credit and also helping their community too.”
Around the start of class in May, Douglas said the students all had to create a design and then promote it to the clients [City of Kokomo and GKEDA].”
After a winning design was chosen, the students then all worked together to complete the project, which Douglas said hopefully should be finished sometime this month.
This year’s winner was created by Jon Reshkus, 29, Denver, who said he drew inspiration by traveling around several towns and researching their public works of art before coming back to Kokomo and doing the same thing here.
“As I looked at the designs around here, I realized that there weren’t a lot of abstract designs,” Reshkus said. “They’re normally focused on something, and you can look at it right away and see what it is. I wanted to do something different.”
Reshkus said it’s pretty exciting to find out his design was chosen.
“It’s kind of a privilege and very wonderful to know that,” he said. “It gives me a sense of pride just knowing that it’ll be here for years to come.”
Susan Alexander, manager of Downtown Initiatives for GKEDA, was one of the members of the panel that chose Reshkus’ design, and she said it’s great to see students want to take initiative to help beautify their community.
“We love engaging IUK students,” she said. “They are such an amazing resource for the community, and I love giving them the opportunity to take ownership of their community center. This is an opportunity for young community members to create the type of beauty in their community that they want to see.”
And compliments like those are what make Douglas’ students smile and believe what they are painting is worth the hard work and dedication.
“One thing that’s been really fun is just all the people passing by and just their reactions to the mural,” Emily Matthews said, as she painted a section last week. “It’s been really cool to see how many people really like it, so that’s a fun portion of it is to have your work appreciated like that.”
Matthews’ classmate Makenzie Quinn echoed those comments, saying that her work on the the mural is something that she’ll be proud to look back on long after her college days are over.
“One thing that’s kind of cool is that this mural is going to be the background of somebody’s picture," Quinn said. “It’s just refreshing that, ‘Wow I actually did something that people are going to enjoy and pay attention to.’ I can’t wait to maybe even be able to take my kids and grandkids to this one day and say that I helped paint this in college.”