Community art project brings student’s vision to life

When it comes to community collaboration, MSUM’s art students know how to get involved.

MSUM’s School of Art teamed up with the School of Media Arts and Design (SoMAD) to create a billboard mural for Churches United that spread the word about the organization’s mission. The School of Art and Churches United recently received a 20,000 dollar grant from the Lake Region Art Council. This grant allows MSUM to make multiple murals for Churches United that spreads awareness and positivity about what they provide for the F/M area.


Churches United is an organization that "provides safe shelter, stable housing, nutritious food, and a path toward healing.”

The SoMAD students joined the process when Bradley Bachmeier, a professor in the School of Art, approached them for inspiration. They could design the concept while his art students would execute the piece.

The graphic design students worked with branding elements that the shelter was already using in some of their ad campaigns to come up with a design using their logo, colors and tag-line,” Professor Bachmeier says. “The art students were then able to blow the design up and mix the colors as needed to help execute the mural. It was designed in a large paint-by-number sort of way so that volunteers could feel comfortable getting involved.”

Jamie Hennessey, a current Graphic and Interactive Design (GID) student, gave the perfect design. Their concept pleased both the classroom and the organization.

“I wanted to illustrate hands coming together to represent a community,” Jamie says. “Churches United acts as a warm and welcoming space that provides necessities for people in need.”

Their vision embodied what Churches United did for others. Alex Fogarty, a professor in SoMAD, understands the strengths Jamie has when it comes to design.

“Jamie has a great ability to hone in on essential principles of visual identity and concept development, but they do so with an extra dose of emotional connection,” Professor Fogarty says. “Their work is always well designed, but it's also playful, whimsical, warm and very expressive.”

The creation of the mural was an all-hands-on deck experience. After Jamie’s design was finalized, the 8’x30’ mural was painted in three days with assistance from over 150 volunteers, including MSUM President Anne Blackhurst. 

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"It was amazing to see the finished product,” Jamie says. “It was exciting to see my art come to fruition in such a large format.”

There was another benefit Jamie realized when it came to their design process. Working with an outside client put their classroom knowledge into action.

“Creating work for a client and working with constructive critiques pushes me to make stronger design choices,” they said. “Critiques from a source other than a student has prepared me that much more for the work force.”

The dedication and hard work of everyone involved showed what it means to give back. This experience is one of the ways MSUM reflects grit, humility and heart.

Click here to see a time lapse of the mural creation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXl75HCCWXA 

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