A mural now adorns a wall of Lakeside Manor, the headquarters of John Brown University’s semester in Ireland program. Students from the fall 2012 team shared their love for Northern Ireland and art through the project.
Late one night in Ireland, while sophomore Cori Hunt and junior Brian Mellema sat in the C. S. Lewis room, they hatched a plan. The bare walls and the magic of Ireland pulled at the artsy side of the two students.
They decided to paint “the wood between the worlds” from Lewis’ book “The Magician’s Nephew,” which emphasized the natural and magical aspects of the place they were living.
The mural became a family project in which everyone took turns filling in spots. Two of the main supporters in the effort were sophomore Samara Eyster and alumna Katelyn Banks, who served as the house manager and cook.
“It was fun to paint because you couldn’t really tell what your were painting up close to it, but when you stepped back it looked like an awesome intricate forest,” said Eyster.
The students wanted to paint a mural at Lakeside because of what it would mean.
Mellema, who also painted a suite mural last year in J. Alvin, said he wanted to “leave a lasting mark.”
“Not only did we make one on that place through our great joy and fellowship that we shared together but also with the physical mark of our painting,” he explained.
Billy Stevenson, director of international programs, said he loved it.
“It looks like you’re stepping out of the wardrobe and into Narnia,” he said.
It impressed him the way that the team hid their initials in the branches of the trees.
“It is an exceptional piece of time consuming work,” he said.
Others noticed it as well. Groups from other schools that stay at Lakeside, such as Cornerstone University students, commented on it.
Stevenson is hopeful that the mural will stay up.
He said he would love for future teams to “make their mark” as well. The only issue is space, which could eventually be the end-all for this particular mural.
Stevenson encourages future teams to expand their artwork, though, and share their passion and talent by “bringing their mural skills to the Irish Peace Wall.”
The walls of one room in the Missionary in Residence house at John Brown University are now covered with art depicting the countries many of the University students represent. The goal behind unleashing the creative freedom upon the walls is to give ownership to the students who call this house their second home.
The University’s current missionaries in residence, Chris and Kelly Cole, first brainstormed the idea for the mural. Back in their home country of Thailand, Chris taught at a local school. He valued creating room for those with artistic gifts in his classroom.
“As a teacher I am not very artistic myself,” Cole said. “But I’ve ended up over the years giving many assignments that allow kids to use their artistic abilities.”
Each week the Coles make a meal at their home for all of the missionary kids at the University. The Coles wanted to give them more ownership of a place that many feel is a home away from home.
“Kelly and I were talking about it and got the idea that there has got to be a lot of talented MKs,” Cole said. “What if we did something that allowed them to display their pride and love of where they grew up and take ownership of the MK room where we serve all the meals?”
It was simple; each continent received the rights to one wall and the creative freedom to decorate it as they wished.
Because of how the MIR program works, the house in which the Coles reside belongs to the University. A new family moves in each year as the old MIRs depart to their home country.
Before paint could touch the walls, the Coles needed to get the idea approved. They brought the idea to Billy Stevenson, director of international programs. Stevenson cleared the idea, and the Coles moved forward with their new project.
Cole sees the project as an addition to their home without any risk.
“To me, it’s a no-lose [situation] because at any point you want to change it, you paint over it,” he shared.
Junior Hannah Salters explained the importance of the mural.
“The MK mural started out as a basic idea to bring creativity to the MK room and a simple excuse to hang out together, but it has become a really cool representation of the love we have for the places we call home as well as something we can be proud of,” she said.
The project brought more than just new colors to the walls.
“I think it is honoring to the Lord. It’s fun and it’s been a unifying thing. We’ve had three nights where we’ve worked on it, and it’s been a really good time,” shared Cole.
Cole hopes to finish the project in three weeks.