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Students' Outdoor Murals Unveiled at Ellicott Island

Students' Outdoor Murals Unveiled at Ellicott Island

Posted: November 15, 2016

Students in Justin Dahl’s mural painting course have created a masterpiece—or, more precisely, seven masterpieces—that celebrate both the history of Ellicott Creek Park and the unique use of its island as a dog park. The mural was unveiled by the Friends of Ellicott at Ellicott Creek Island in the park on November 6.

Justin Dahl, ‘06, is a lecturer in the Fine Arts Department, and remembered painting a mural at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in a service-learning course he took at Buffalo State.

“I wanted to do this course as a service-learning course because it adds an element to the class that shows students something about public art,” said Dahl. “The mural is in the building that was part of a boathouse built by the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, so we’re building on a tradition, too.”

The students experienced the challenges of painting murals on the medium of old stonework and bricks, and learned to explain their work to interested passers-by. The class also includes the business of being a public works artist. “I gave the students some guidelines,” said Dahl, “and they had to develop proposals for the work they wanted to do.” Dahl took on the job of painting the bricks to look like the original stone work of the building, mirroring the arched entrances across from the murals’ wall in what once was the foundation of the boathouse. The wooden part of the structure, designed by Charles Ellicott, burned down long ago.

“The students started work in August, the Friday before classes started,” said Dahl. “They did a terrific job, and put about 700 hours into the work. They worked to give something to the community as well as to learn, and that’s what I think service learning is about.”

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