Chrisman High School art students take on underpass project
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The underpass in Chrisman is getting a makeover. Former Chrisman Art Teacher, Rebekah Hamersley, who has now taken a job elsewhere, was approached by Elementary School Principal Kelly Schluter and community member Teresa Jordan about repainting the mural on the underpass.
“I thought it would be a great idea to involve myself and my students to continue the tradition of the school’s involvement in painting of the underpass,” Hamersley told us. “It is such a special landmark to the town and we want to honor the previous artists who created the original painting.”
Teresa Jordan had the idea of giving the underpass a new look after seeing everything the town was doing for the Chrisman Days celebrations.
“I contacted Vicki Riggen, who was part of the original mural to see what she thought about doing something to make them look better,” Jordan said. “She agreed it would be nice if they were freshened up, but to make sure the city was ok with it.”
After the city was contacted, Mayor Danny Owen let Jordan know that the structures were actually property of IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation). From there, Jordan reached out to IDOT to get a permit to work on both sides of the road.
The original mural was in rough shape, peeling in places and chunks of concrete were falling out. The peeling of paint by a roadside is considered a hazard by IDOT.
“I was informed of all their requirements and regulations. I was also told that there was discussion from IDOT to paint over the mural when it was first done because it is considered graffiti when you don’t have permission,” Jordan said.
Both Schluter and Jordan inquired about Hamersley and her students getting involved in the revamping of the underpass.
“We are planning to have the previous artists come and sign their names on the finished mural with the current students’ signatures as well,” Hamersley said. “We have also photographed the old mural and plan to get that framed to remember it by.”
Mrs. Riggen has since reached out to the original students that were involved to let them know their names will be on this mural in commemoration.
Hamersley hopes to have the first side of the underpass done by the end of next week. Unfortunately, in order to ensure the quality is as high as possible, it has taken longer than anticipated.
Students Grace Bishop, Clementine Nueman, Ivie Sayre and Alexis Pinnell, along with Hamersley collaborated their ideas and design for the mural.
“Grace designed the Cardinal that is on the High School side. Clementine created the lettering for the front, while Ivie is working on the backside with her own style of lettering,” Hamersley said. “We have had a great time working together and these girls are so incredible and amazing artists as well.”
“Teresa and her husband, Michael, have been an enormous help in giving their time and efforts to paint the base of the underpass black so we can paint our mural on top of it.”