The Wave Off of the Art Room

Student artists, Maddy Spencer and Cooper Herweck come together to spruce up the wall by Mrs. Birhanu’s art room

by Alija Ernst, Content Manager

The lower A-building is home to the choir room, the math department, workshop classrooms, robotics room, and of course the art rooms. Art teacher Abby Birhanu, has always wanted to have a very creative and decorative room, however Birhanu never knew how to decorate it and make it stand out from the rest of the classrooms in the lower A-building. So when junior Cooper Herweck and sophomore Maddy Spencer came up with the idea to do a collage of different art styles and art pieces, Birhanu happily agreed. 

“I just asked Cooper and Maddy, ‘Could you please make a mural?’ I wanted them to bring in as many different art forms as you possibly can,” said Birhanu. 

Of course, without any second thought, Herweck and Spencer started to get to work on planning the mural and coming up with ideas as to what they exactly wanted to do for the mural. 

“Most the mural is composed of student work. Then Maddy and I planning out what we wanted on the wall. We of course had to get advice from Mrs. Birhanu from time to time,” Herweck said.

“We wanted to start out wanting to do a different mix of different art styles and references to great paintings. Then Cooper was inspired by the Great Wave off Kanagawa [famous painting made by Hokusai], so we incorporated that painting into the work. Then we just went with the flow from there,” Spencer stated.

According to Herweck and Spencer, there were some difficulties with the painting.

“The hardest part of the painting was most likely the sky above the wave. Only because every time that I would finish a section, all the paint would be dry. However, I had to match the colors to the paint that was already dry. That was the most difficult part for me,” Herweck said.
“The hardest part of making this project for me was not the technical aspects of the mural, but the motivation to work on the project. At first, I tried to make it look how I had pictured in my mind. However, it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, so it was difficult to get myself in the mindset of moving forward rather than giving up,” Spencer said. 

With every difficult part of a project, there is always the good parts of the project, and according to Birhanu, she loves how the mural keeps people occupied.

“I absolutely love how this mural keeps your mind busy, and keeps your eyes moving around and you get a really good sense of all the styles that come together,” Birhanu said. “It gets the feeling of the texture of the mural is coming off the wall just because of the thickness in some of the paints. It gives the painting so many interesting layers to look at.”