Every day as she heads down the basement hallway to her lab, she pauses to look at what new plants are growing on the walls and what new animals have found a home there.
The murals that are taking shape in the hallway feature different branches of agriculture and give TTU art students lessons about realistic landscapes.
“It brings them together. The agriculture students learn what goes on top of the soils that they study, and the art students learn about what goes under the soil,” said TTU art education professor Patricia Coleman. “We make sure everything we’ve done has been authentic, even down to the ears on the opossum under the wagon.”
Coleman’s art education theory classes have been working on the murals since last fall; they will finish their fields of corn, soy beans and strawberries, as well as the cows, turtles, birds, worms and wetlands, this semester.
“We’ve got a lot of different representations of different aspects of agriculture,” Branson said. “We have animal science, agronomy, horticulture, a little bit of agricultural engineering with the farm equipment and a bit of agribusiness.”
The murals are so popular that some professors are requesting pieces that fit with their current projects and research, including the representations of strawberry and cut flower production.
Agriculture students are painting as well.
“They had me doing wormholes and roots. We just started on rocks, but we’re not very good at those,” said pre-veterinary science student Riley Thompson. “The roots were fun because you could do whatever you wanted, as long as it looked kind of like a root.”
Many of the art students are incorporating their childhoods into their art. Carthage native Jay Replogle is painting trees in honor of his father, a retired forester. Sparta resident Laurie Giampietro is painting a flower garden that reminds her of her grandmother’s.
The basement in South Hall is the first mural for most of the art students; many of them have said they now hope to incorporate mural painting when they are art teachers.
“I think it’s nice to get out of the classroom and get some real life experience of what it would be like to paint murals collaboratively,” said Amber Rhodey, a junior from Oak Ridge. “There are a lot of things you don’t think about that can come up. Painting on the wall is difficult; if it was canvas, you could move it.”