Many Connections. One U.

Students collaborate with National Blues Museum on downtown art project

on May 14, 2012 by Janet Edwards

Maryville students teamed up with the National Blues Museum to create a blues music mural in the windows of the Laurel Building, future site of the museum in downtown St. Louis.

In April and early May, Maryville students, with the support of artist Phil Jarvis, painted their own designs onto the building’s massive 11-foot by 5-foot windows that line Washington Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets. The installation also include three-dimensional features behind the glass related to blues music and entertainment that will be illuminated after dark. Their project will be on display along the ground floor windows for the next year.

Maryville University students have participated in service projects before, but this one represents a new kind of experience for the Art & Design programs, said Caren Schlossberg-Wood, associate instructor in Maryville University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The National Blues Museum wanted to use art to activate that space, to let people know as they were walking by that work was going on related to the blues museum,” Schlossberg-Wood said. She said Maryville students were a great fit for the project and had come up with some wonderful designs.

“The National Blues Museum will be part of the fabric of the city,” said Robert Endicott, chairman of the National Blues Museum.  “This will bring life to our presence at street level, even while we are in the fundraising and planning phases of the museum. These amazing young people at Maryville University are helping us to achieve both these goals.  We are very excited about what they are creating.”

The hand-painted designs begin by drawing from the MX District and Laurel Apartments logos as the installation progresses down Washington Avenue. At the main entrance to the National Blues Museum, the design explodes in waves of color and image. Students said they wanted to capture the feeling of the blues and the way it has influenced other musical genres. While students worked, they were stopped by people wanting to know more about what they were creating. For them, it has been a way to see their creativity make an impact far beyond the classroom. “You get out of your bubble, and have a chance to see how artwork can have a real influence,” said junior Steph Sabo, 21. They used computers to plan out their design and created temporary grids on the windows, allowing them to plot out exactly where their designs should go.

The mission of the National Blues Museum is to foster the creation of the museum in downtown St. Louis and to explore the blues and celebrate the genre as the root of all modern American music through educational programs.  The National Blues Museum is the proposed 23,000 square foot tenant in The Laurel, (formerly the Dillard’s Building). The museum will feature a unique a collection of technology- and artifact-driven exhibits.

The students’ work received news coverage from KPLR-TV and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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