Art Club to Paint Mural, Bring Color to NDA Walls

Skylar Schultz, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame students may soon be treated to new colors upon our beige walls, as a result of the NDA Art Club’s foray into murals and public artworks. This new project has been the club’s major focus since the return of their mentor, Mrs. Melanie Bradshaw. It was Bradshaw’s idea to add a mural after her first year teaching at the academy.

“In general, I appreciate public art,” she said. “I had considered the idea of a mural at Notre Dame when I saw the space after starting last year, but I knew that in the past the school already had the tradition of purchasing and hanging student art, so I wasn’t sure how a mural would be received. I figured I would feel out how my first year at NDA went, then move forward if it seemed like something the community wanted.”

“At the beginning of this school year, Mrs. Bain approached me and asked about the possibility of doing a mural,” she recalled. “I talked to a few other people in the building and in general it seemed people were excited about the idea of brightening up the space. So, I decided that after I got back, and we restarted the Art Club, I would see if it was something the students would be interested in.”

Mrs. Bradshaw is particularly experienced in the art of public spaces. Though she is a relative newbie at Notre Dame, Bradshaw has plenty of background in such scenery.

“I started working on murals as a part of my high school art club,” she said. “Each year we would pick a space in the school and do a piece, sometimes revamping old murals and sometimes doing completely new ones. I really enjoyed creating them and learned a lot about the process needed to successfully create such a large-scale piece.” 

Bradshaw used this knowledge with a fellow art major in college, decorating their dorm building, as well as the campus aquatic area and fitness center. After she began her teaching career, Bradshaw continued making murals, this time with her sixth-grade students.

“Because they were younger students, we brainstormed ideas and the kids helped with the design, but I did the final drawing for the mural, and the kids painted it,” she said. “They did a great job and it was very well received. I am excited to see how it goes when students have more ownership in the whole process.”

As for this year, things are looking up. “It seems like, pending a successful design, we will be able to begin painting at the end of this school year,” Bradshaw said. “The idea has been well received so far and the plan is to bring a more solid design and location to the building and grounds committee at their meeting next month.”

At the moment, the students are in the middle of a brainstorm, both for a location and a design to match it.

“I initially thought the stairwells might be a good location, however logistically it would be difficult to get multiple students to be able to safely paint in that space,” said Bradshaw. “After taking a walking tour with the club, the students were interested in the large walls that are leading to the freshman hallway by the science rooms or in the hallway that leads from the chapel area to the priory.” 

Designs are currently in development, as students are currently in the process of finding inspiration, drafting their own version, and finalizing it for the board. Still, Bradshaw is confident that whatever they come up with will be great for the school

“We have a really great group of art club students this year that I think will be up to the task,” she said. “There is a lot of talent in the group, and I think that will come across in the finished product.”

“Getting started is always one of the hardest parts,” said the art teacher. “The approval process and figuring out the logistics always takes a little bit of time and effort so, as expected, the project has been slow going out of the gate. However, I think that once we have the design finalized and approved, it will move pretty quickly since we have such a large group willing to work on it.”

“Everyone I have talked to has been really positive about the idea,” said Bradshaw. “Notre Dame is a pretty old building and murals tend to help brighten and modernize a space, so I think people will enjoy that here. I think the Art Club students will really enjoy the process and hopefully, we’ll be able to brighten and bring a little extra energy to the school building for next school year.”