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Fine Arts Students Work on Olmsted Mural

Posted: July 11, 2011
Murals are nothing new, according to Philip Ogle, professor and chair of the Fine Arts Department. “The first wall paintings were created tens of thousands of years ago,” said Ogle, referring to the cave drawings found in Chauvet Cave, the Lascaux cave complex, and elsewhere.

This summer, Ogle is teaching a public art/mural painting class. As part of the class, his students are working under the direction of mural artist Augustina Droze on a new public mural. Droze was commissioned by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Department to create a mural on a wall behind McKinley High School, facing the Scajaquada Pathway. The mural depicts a scene from each of the six parks designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of an intertwined park system for Buffalo.

“Working on the mural is just one part of the class,” said Ogle. Besides reviewing the history of wall paintings, Ogle introduces the concept of public art. “Public art, as we know it, started to come into its own with the French and American revolutions,” he said. The Works Progress Administration of the 1930s fostered public art well into the twentieth century.

“A mural can create a lot of hope,” said Droze, whose work can be seen in India as well as in several locations across the United States. She enjoys creating public art because she appreciates interacting with the community. “If you do the art correctly,” she said, “you create a dialogue with the people who live there.”

Ogle, a member of the panel who selected Droze as lead artist for the mural, came to Buffalo State in 2011. He believes that public art belongs to the community. “When a museum puts a work of art on display outside,” he said, “the art has been chosen by the museum and belongs to it. Public art, at its best, is chosen by the community or by its representatives, and the public interacts with it.” At the same time, it’s important to recognize the talent and vision that the artist brings to the project, according to Ogle.

Droze will give a presentation of her work and discuss the wall mural on Wednesday, July 13, at 11:30 a.m. at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

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