The Black Hills State University Fine Arts Program invites the community to the Matthews Opera House & Arts Center Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to participate in a public mural painting project to be placed adjacent to the green space in front of old City Hall. The BHSU Fine Arts program is collaborating with local schools and organizations to complete this new art project this summer.
Desy Schoenewies, associate professor of art at BHSU, said the painting process will give members of the community including children as young as five years old or individuals with limited mobility, the opportunity to participate; as all the sections painted by community groups will be returned to BHSU Fine Arts students who will shadow colors and put on the finishing touches.
Anyone interested can still be part of this project by painting a small or large section Saturday.
“By representing various aspects of Spearfish through many layers, we hope this mural will evoke memories and associations of life in the Black Hills,” said Schoenewies.
The mural will be created in 25-foot-by-10-foot sections on a lightweight and durable fabric called Polytab.
Choosing a theme that resonates throughout Spearfish, the mural, which will be placed in a prominent location near old City Hall, will focus on the natural beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, the strong connection within the community, as well as a the health and healing in the community symbolized by the ascending white buffalo derived from the Lakota culture.
“After consulting the American Indian Studies Department at BHSU, we felt the white buffalo remains an important and relevant symbol to our entire community. We could all use the blessing of a white buffalo,” said Schoenewies. According to American Indian tradition, as the White Buffalo Calf Woman ascended into the heavens, she changed into four different colors: black, red, yellow, and finally, a white buffalo. Additionally, black, red, yellow, and white are the colors of the Medicine Wheel and represent the four seasons, the four directions, and the four colors of mankind.
This design was developed through a collaboration with Altman Studeny’s Community Arts course at BHSU in fall of 2018, the BHSU Art Club, BHSU Fine Arts majors, and the many community participants who responded to surveys for what they wanted to see incorporated in the visual identity of the town.
BHSU students learned mural painting techniques with visiting artist Paul LaJeunesse
The mural project is supported by funding provided by the Bush Foundation, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the BHSU College of Liberal Arts.
Participants in the mural painting have included the Matthews Opera House, Spearfish K-12 art programs, Belle Fourche art programs, Black Hills Art Association, and Canyon Hills Center.