By Britta Miller
For the Diamondback
The University of Maryland features artwork throughout campus, from the Stamp Gallery to sidewalk chalk drawings. Assistant Professor Brandon Donahue takes this to a new level by taking students off campus and creating art for the wider community.
“I try to break those norms of what a painting class is,” said Donahue, who teaches ARTT320: Elements of Painting.
He took students outside to create a mural in the backyard of The Hall CP, a restaurant in College Park.
Hall CP first reached out to the dean of the college of arts and humanities, in an effort to foster a sense of community between that university and College Park.
Donahue said the art department was the perfect way to merge the restaurant’s community engagement and outreach goals.
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The mural consists of four different pieces created by the students, each reflecting a nature theme.
Junior architecture student Caleb Blanton and his group have designed hands that spell “Love.”
“We came up with this design because we were looking at current events in the world – whether it’s Afghanistan, Ukraine, things happening in China – and there’s a lot of hate and violence out there,” said Blaton. “We thought, ‘How could we spread a message of love and peace?'”
The letters, as well as the artwork of the other groups, are made of a material called polytab, a fine fiber from the cloth. It saves time painting outdoors because it can be made in the studio and then transported to the mural site and glued down, Donahue said.
Ariella Nahoumi, a sophomore in finance and marketing, said she had never taken a real art class before. His group chose to paint swans swimming under the moon.
“We noticed that everything was more in the daytime mood,” Nahoumi said. “We wanted to do something a little different, but still stay with the theme.”
The biggest issue for Blanton’s group was the size of the mural. They had to use projectors to trace their designs onto the polytab, and they had to run all their gear up and down two flights of stairs each class.
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Blanton also mentioned how size affected the group’s painting speed.
“There were many times where there were only one or two people working on it,” he said. “We all paint really massive pieces and so every time someone misses it sets us back.”
Despite the challenges, Nahoumi said it was a class she looked forward to. She and her group also had to try to paint despite the rain.
“It stopped, but there was still a bit of drizzle, so I guess if it rained harder, we would go to class,” Nahoumi said.
However, she also mentioned that since polytab is a thick material, contact with water does not necessarily damage the paint.
Even with the rain, Donahue said the weather was one of the motivating factors for creating this mural with his students. The other motivating factor was the location of the mural.
“The environment is already established, so students are already engaging and hanging out here,” Donahue said. “It just amplifies more hype and more excitement about it.”