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Evolving art wall becomes canvas for student artists

An evolving art wall in the North Art Studio could look completely different each time someone walks by.

The wall contains many different art forms, including stamped police reports from a minor in possession charge and a painted visual of Donald Trump's head on Donald Duck's body. Stamps of "Bro, send pics" are across the bottom with a yellow background and there are flying horned creatures throughout the whole wall.

Any student can add to the evolving art wall. Some of the works included are assignments given by professors, including printmaking classes taught by Professor of Art Johanna Paas.

“We are hoping that (the wall) will continue to evolve as the semester progresses,” Paas said. “Students are invited to add to the existing image, or cover it and start something new. The collaborative aspect of the wall is interesting and playful."

A Printmaking Studio class started the wall at the beginning of the semester.

The wall only has a few rules; that the art doesn't violate the CMU Checklist for Hallway Exhibit Safety and that no spray painting is done directly on the wall. The artwork is meant to be appropriate for public viewing and artists are to be respectful in order to continue to utilize the space.

"It was one of our first assignments (to create prints),” said sophomore Audrey Pottratz. “They were tests, not meant to be stand alone works of art, so we got to put them up on the wall."

The introductory printmaking class put its prints up so they appear to be shattering and ripped. The objective of the wall is to provide students with an opportunity to share artwork outside of class. Students and classes can use the wall for coursework, but it is not a requirement.

"We want the wall to be an alternative space for students to share their images," Paas said. "We just ask that students be respectful of other people's work and leave new work untouched for at least three days. After those three days, it can be covered or altered."

Some things featured could be considered controversial or inappropriate by some viewers, such Coleman sophomore Danielle Little’s piece on Bill Cosby which reads “step up and rape the rapist.”

Her art comes as a response to Cosby's rape accusations this summer.

"As soon as I heard about the evolving wall I started thinking of ideas on how to utilize it," Little said. "I wanted to make something about rape culture, in a way that would make people think about the issue. By connecting a well known person like Bill Cosby to a certain situation or culture, it makes people think.”

Many writers will use people in the spotlight to catch readers' attention on certain problems in society, Little said. It makes people apply the situation to things in their own lives, on campus or off.

“I like to convey meaning in my pieces, no matter what they are. I want to get a message across, whether it is obvious or not,” she said.

Little was doing the Cosby piece as part of a printmaking project. In addition to this piece, she hopes to do something new with the whole wall. She has considered blacking out the wall and doing different installations of words printed on the wall. The words would play off of relationships and express alternate perspectives by projecting them differently.

Another artist, Meadville junior Tate Verduin, originally came to CMU for athletic training but after taking a drawing class she changed her major.

"I never had any art classes in high school," Verduin said. "My grandma is a seamstress and exposed me to making clothes. I always liked to draw and just started creating things. When I came to college is when I started exploring different mediums because I finally had the teachers and classes to learn techniques."

The Mississippi native recently put a screen print on the evolving art wall. The print was a flower with intricate design in the middle. In her eyes, the wall is a way for students to stray away from the confines of class projects and be more playful.

"I like the idea of an evolving art wall," Verduin said. "It teaches people to be less permanent in their art, which is definitely something I struggle with. It's kind of weird to put things up because I feel like I'm covering up someone else's work, but I guess that's the point. The constant evolving of it is really cool."