I am a muralist, writer and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas. My more than one-hundred murals painted over thirty years can be found across the United States, and in Northern Ireland, South Korea and Brazil. My studio work is exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Yale University, and the Spencer Museum of Art. I am the co-author of Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide; and am the subject of “Called to Walls,” a feature length documentary film about my murals that premiered in 2016. My approach to the creation of murals is rooted in the specific place where they will be located and the audiences who will ultimately engage with them. To achieve this, I do deep research including talking with neighbors, shopkeepers and people who know the area well. This research is a part of my community-based approach, which honors and amplifies the voices and visions of local people in the creation of the mural design. As a group, we work together imagining and then crafting a painted evocation of the histories, dreams and challenges that shape the place where the mural will live.
Practically, my process includes:
1) Initial on-site research
2) Preliminary design with a core group of community members
3) Final design
4) Wall preparation
5) Painting with community members
6) Seal / varnish and celebrate!
During the time that the mural is being created, I often give talks about the history and meanings of Kansas murals to schools and retirement homes.
Many community members, from school aged kids to elders have the opportunity to be part of the design team which creates the mural. Many more will have a chance to actually help paint, while the entire community and visitors will learn from observing the process and seeing the finished work.