For the sixth and final mural of the (first round) of the Mid -America Mural Project, we decided to pull the curtain back on our process and reveal some of what goes on behind the scenes. Call it a mural within a mural or a meta-mural, it was a way for us to honor and recognize the many people who participate and to give a glimpse into the design process.
In the Hastings design we follow the process from wall prep to research to design to transfer and finally community painting. Along the way, many of those who have helped us appear. Below is a description of the design from left to right. It is illustrated with the line drawing we used to project the design onto the wall.
The mural begins with two volunteers preparing the wall. One is priming, the other measuring. A shadow of bike rider on the bike path is cast onto the wall from behind them. To their right, giant figures wade into a pile of possibilities comprising Hastings culture and history, that, when sorted out and edited down, will become elements of the mural. The things that these design team members touch / select go from monochrome to full-color indicating their preference.
Under the encouraging watch of a mustachioed local celebrity (actually the main figure of a mural in the Kensington) the mural team delves into the history and culture of Hastings sharing their discoveries with each other at the Hastings Museum. On their research table, a collection of seemingly unrelated items interact, including the statue of a Pawnee man, a polar bear, Kool-Aid stand, rattlesnake, Prairie Loft Barn, and Sandhill cranes.
Switching over to a scene in front of the yet to be painted wall, young mural designers begin by making drawings on the sidewalk. Two of them invoke fantasies of flight and hopes guided by dandelion seeds, while another contemplates the cycle of water from rain to farm to aquifer.
The design for this mural in a mural begins to take shape symbolized by a Hastings brick layer putting the first pieces together. He is joined by design team members who, holding up the unfurling image, share their creation with us.Their creation includes a stylized version of Fisher Fountain surrounded by symbols of local agriculture and architecture. Fireworks light up the sky as the mural design is projected onto the wall.
Before the illuminated wall, neighbors join the fun playing with shadow puppets in front of a design proposal by Dave Stewart. The final section of the mural, we see Hastings' folks young and old participating in community painting weekend. Cast across the figures of the painters and onto the wall in front of them, the shadow of an old steam locomotive passes silently into history.