Monday, May 3, 2010

Tonkawa - Design

At my studio in Lawrence, Amber, Nicholas and I began sorting through boxes of research material. We rolled out long pieces of paper that represented the wall at a 1/2" = 1' scale and started scribbling and sketching down images and words (that represented images) to see how they looked juxtaposed together. In my experience this is is the hardest part of any mural project - working to transform and distill the vast collection of ideas and images into a composition that is both visually compelling and conceptually meaningful.

In our early studies, we decided to use divisions in the wall created by metal downspouts to organize the design into five sections or panels. From left to right we settled on five interrelated themes:

1) Max Carr delivering newspapers from his airplane (which will highlight events from Tonkawa's history) to rural Kay County farms .

2) Railroad Cisco of the Tonkawa Tribe describing to a group of students the tribe's journey from Texas to Oklahoma in the 1880's, and the Land Run that followed in 1893.

3) A symbolic scene showing a representative group of Tonkawans playing a traditional drum, nestled within giant hands cupped together in the shape of a heart, that radiates waves of sound, memory, and aspiration back through history and forward into the future.

4) A group of local folks around a coffee table fixing, painting, and reimagining the downtown.

5) A whimsical representation of Tonkawa's creative spirit symbolized by figures setting the moon and stars into a twilight sky as an outdoor movie is projected behind them.

Back in Tonkawa, we presented our design to the mural team. They studied it carefully, and after a good discussion it was approved with the understanding that we would reincorporate a couple dancing atop the grain elevator and add a Buccaneer (the high school mascot) somewhere in the last panel. Next step: cut paper collage color study.

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