By Britta Miller
For The Diamondback
The University of Maryland has art featured all over the campus, from the Stamp Gallery to chalk drawings on the sidewalks. Assistant professor Brandon Donahue is taking this to a new level by bringing students outside of the campus and creating art for the wider community.
“I’m trying to break those norms of what a painting class is,” said Donahue, who teaches ARTT320: Elements of Painting.
He has taken students outside to create a mural in the backyard of The Hall CP, a restaurant in College Park.
The Hall CP initially reached out to the dean of the arts and humanities college, with the goal of fostering a sense of community between this university and College Park.
Donahue said the art department was the perfect way to merge the restaurant’s goals of community engagement and outreach.
The mural consists of four different pieces created by the students — each reflect a nature theme.
Junior architecture major Caleb Blanton and his group designed hands that spell out “Love.”
“We came up with this design because we were looking at current events going on in the world — whether that be Afghanistan, Ukraine, things going on in China — and there’s a lot of hate and violence going on,” Blanton said. “We figured, ‘What’s a way that we could spread a message of love and peace?’”
The letters, along with art from the other groups, are made of a material called polytab, a thin fiber that comes from fabric. It saves time painting outside because it can be made in the studio then transported to the mural site and glued on, Donahue said.
Sophomore finance and marketing major Ariella Nahoumi said she’s never taken a real art class before. Her group chose to paint swans swimming under the moon.
“We noticed that everything was more of the daytime vibe,” Nahoumi said. “We wanted to do something a little different, but still stick with the theme.”
The biggest issue for Blanton’s group was the size of the mural. They had to use projectors to trace their designs onto the polytab, and they’d have to bring all their materials up and down two flights of stairs every class.
Blanton also mentioned how the size affected the speed of the group’s painting.
“There’s been a lot of times where it’s just been one or two people working on it,” he said. “We’re all painting really massive pieces and so anytime someone’s missing, it sets us back.”
Despite challenges, Nahoumi said it had been a class she looked forward to. She and her group also had to try to paint despite rain.
“It stopped, but it was still a little drizzly, so I guess if it was raining harder we’d go to the classroom,” Nahoumi said.
However, she also mentioned that because the polytab is a thick material, contact with water won’t necessarily ruin the painting.
Even with the rain, Donahue said the weather was one of the motivating factors for creating this mural with his students. The other motivator was the location of the mural.
“The environment is already established so students already engage and hang out here,” Donahue said. “It just sort of amps up just more hype and more excitement about this.”