Vivid displays of color, shape, and beauty are popping up across Pullman, thanks largely to the talents of a group of muralists at Washington State University.
Students and faculty in the fine arts department have worked in recent months with other artists in the community to create a vibrant bouquet of public art on walls of buildings at the center of town and at the Palouse Discovery Science Center on Nelson Court. Six more murals adorn the playgrounds at two local elementary schools.
From still life realism to geometric designs, the painted walls are more than mere eye candy—they’re also teaching and learning tools for the artists and viewers, said muralist Joe Hedges, WSU associate professor of painting/intermedia and a strong advocate for art in public places.
“Public art is vital to a community. It makes a place more interesting—more colorful in many ways—and it sparks conversations between neighbors,” he said. “Projects tend to connect business owners and community stakeholders with people and ideas they may not otherwise encounter. The value is as much in the conversations and coalition building that happens behind the scenes as it is in the final result.”
Michael Holloman, associate professor of fine arts, recently was named coordinator of Native Arts Outreach and Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, with the goal of expanding arts-based experiences and learning among native and indigenous communities.
A member of the Colville/Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Holloman will work directly with the CAS Department of Fine Arts and School of Music, WSU’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and Office of Tribal Relations, as well as a number of student organizations and the tribal signatories to WSU’s memorandum of understanding with native nations. With these groups, he will develop ongoing and future arts-based relationships and programming specifically focused on engaging a wide range of communities and individuals located in Washington, Idaho and beyond.
“The arts and culture for Native American communities are so intricately linked,” Holloman said. “How this finds its way into our contemporary world of the arts, particularly in the field of digital arts and design, is fluid and natural,” he said.
For most of his collegiate career, Dallas Hobbs lived a dual existence.
There was the Washington State University football player and mainstay on the Cougar’s defensive line. And then there was the student entrepreneur who owns a multimedia design business, co-hosts two podcasts and has a small ownership stake in a start-up brewery.
In the past, “I couldn’t post on my personal twitter page and say, ‘Hey, I’m a freelance graphic designer, and I’m looking for clients,’” said Hobbs, 24, a redshirt senior and online MBA student at the Carson College of Business. “You weren’t allowed to solicit customers like that.”
Hobbs, who majored in fine arts and digital technology and culture as an undergrad, recently set up a limited liability company for his business ventures. Since he’s been able to promote his work, Hobbs has seen an uptick in prospective clients for his firm, Hobbs Design. He’s also the director of marketing and design for Common Language Brewing in Spokane.
The “Immaterial” exhibit, featuring works from Yvette Cummings, Mica Lilith Smith and Io Palmer, is on view at the McCormick Gallery at Midland College.
Each artist’s work differs in subject and appearance, but they express powerful and compelling ideas through physical material. The exhibition highlights physical substances from patterned fabric and paint to bobby pins and furniture as a way to look deeper into the immaterial realms of individual experience and cultural narrative, according to the press release.
Palmer is an associate professor of fine arts at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Through depiction of cleaning products, laborers’ garments and various other industrial and domestic forms, Palmer’s works explore the complex issue of class, capitalism and societal excess. Trained originally as a ceramicist, Palmer uses a variety of processes and materials including fabric, steel, sound and wood.
The exhibit is one view through Sept. 30. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays. Admission is free.
A year after the idea was first proposed to the Pullman City Council, a mural promoting racial equality is complete and can be viewed downtown on Main Street.
It contains the words “Black Lives Matter,” “End Racism Now” and “Pullman, WA — You Are Welcome Here” on a colorful backdrop of flowers and rolling hills.
“We are just over the moon,” project manager Joe Hedges, assistant professor of fine art, said about finishing the painting.
Hedges said the process has been a struggle, “but there were a lot of people in town that never really gave up and were inspired by larger cities and small towns nationwide that had come together to create some kind of public display of a commitment to ending racism.”