Work study students enliven L Wing with original artwork

Four Durham College (DC) Fine Arts students have spent the summer transforming the L Wing with their artistic talent.

“We have an amazing group of students who have been hired to enliven our hallways by producing some original artwork and collaborative pieces,” explained Sean McQuay, professor and coordinator of the Fine Arts program.

Heading into the third and final year of their program, Elijah McKenzie, Meghan Costello, Jennifer Rammler and Jordan Dolman jumped at the opportunity to put their artistic stamp on the walls of DC for years to come.

The quartet have been hard at work since late spring, and many of their 18 pieces will be completed in time to be enjoyed by returning students next month. Work on the others will continue throughout the fall semester.

“The point is to bring life into the halls and make this feel like the art wing that it is,” said Costello. “I think it’s really special that we’re doing work that we’ll get to see every day throughout the year, and our classmates and other students will also get to see it.”

One eye-catching piece is a colorful and anatomically correct version of the familiar “I Heart DC” logo. But the artists were not instructed to simply promote the school. Instead, they were encouraged to treat the walls as their personal canvas and create work that’s meaningful to them.

McKenzie is particularly proud of a piece that depicts an open mouth emitting smoke.

“I wanted to represent how people want to get their voice out,” he said. “It’s nice to have a variety of different styles and themes.”

He has also collaborated with Costello as she creates a mural depicting a skeletal figure emitting light from within. Rammler has been hard at work on a mural that celebrates the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, while Dolman has focused on pieces that he hopes will radiate positivity.

“I’m just making them colorful and full of love and putting all that energy out there,” he said. “I always try to start with good vibes and just go with it.”

Providing a work study opportunity like this is a dream come true for McQuay, his fellow professor Keir Broadfoot and the entire Media, Art and Design (MAD) Faculty. Though the work of Fine Arts students has long been displayed throughout Durham College (DC), this is the first time they’ve been allowed to redecorate the wing they call home.

Though the students are being paid for their work, they’re also gaining invaluable experience in the conception, planning and implementation of the kind of art project they hope to work on in the future.

“We wanted to give them the opportunity to do the planning and conceptualization on their own, so they can have as much experience as possible working on a large-scale project,” said Broadfoot.  

It’s a rare opportunity that isn’t lost on the students, according to Rammler.

“I don’t even know of any art schools that would have such a convenient and open opportunity to do artwork for the school, and get paid for it, while you’re still students,” she said.

A summer of hard work will yield some great artwork for students to enjoy, and another example of how DC is leading the way in experiential learning.

The L Wing is open to everyone. Next time you’re on campus be sure to visit and enjoy the new artwork.