Monday, June 11, 2012
UK art students’ murals inspire healthy lifestyle for workers in Downtown Lexington
By Whitney Hale
University of Kentucky
A group of University of Kentucky art students is brightening the day of those who work in the Central Bank building in downtown Lexington, literally.
Students of UK Assistant Professor of Painting Ebony G. Patterson painted murals on the walls of the stairwell in the building. The goal of the project was to entice employees in the building to take the stairs and admire the new scenery as opposed to riding in an elevator.
“The bank thought activating the stairwell would activate their workers to get involved with the wellness program,” Patterson said.
So far, it seems to be working.
“There is a lot of buzz in the building about the work,” Karen Butler, human resources manager for Central Bank, said. “I sincerely believe people will take the stairs now because the environment is interesting, bright and colorful. And that is exactly the outcome we were hoping for.”
The collaborative project was proposed to Benjamin Withers, chair of the UK Department of Art within the UK College of Fine Arts, who then recommended Patterson head the project based on her previous work with collaborative and community-oriented art.
“Central Bank has had an ongoing relationship with UK for a long time,” Butler said. “Ebony worked very hard to make sure the project was a success. She was absolutely wonderful to work with and I enjoyed meeting the students.”
Patterson said a small group of art studio students were selected to participate based on submissions they made on the school’s server. Submissions had to fit the project’s theme, “Mind, Body and Spirit,” an extension of the bank’s wellness initiative that has been in place since 2007.
Once her team was selected, the students received a stipend for needed supplies. After the project was completed, they received a small commission for their work in the stairwells.
The students faced a number of challenges trying to paint the stairwell murals. They could only paint at certain times during the day and students had just three weeks, including weekends, to complete the murals, forcing them to work whenever they could.
Patterson said most of the students selected had not worked with such a large space before, causing them to adjust on the fly and learn on the job.
“I am sure, given the scale of the project, it challenged students to think about their own practice in studio, in terms of how a work can resonate simply because of a shift in scale,” Patterson explained.
But Patterson’s students rose to the challenge, and the end result was something the team of artists and employees of the bank alike can appreciate and enjoy.
“The work has exceeded my expectations,” Butler said. “It’s a very successful project.”
The Central Bank murals feature work by Associate Professor of New Media Doreen Maloney; senior Jackson Bullock, of Central City, Ky.; graduate student Natasha Giles, of Prospect, Ky.; sophomore Travis Keene, of Lexington; and senior Emelie Richardson, of Lexington.