Artworks hires NKU youth and talent to help paint mural


Photo by Kody Kahle

The beginning of the mural at Newport Aquarium.

Last Thursday, the Newport Aquarium unveiled the more than 300-foot-long and 33-foot-tall shark wall mural. While a large group helped to complete the work, several of the hands that put paint to the wall belonged to NKU students.

Jenna Webster, a freshman graphic design major and media informatics minor, was one of those students.

“My high school art teacher and extra curricular art teacher encouraged me to apply for the program,” said Webster.

The project was started by Artworks, a local non–profit organization who started in 1996 to help find employment opportunities for local artists said David Heyburn, public art manager of Artworks. They have also begun painting murals across the Greater Cincinnati area to help beautify neighborhoods as well as local artists said Heyburn. Roz Tallmadge, a professional local artist, designed the mural.

“Newport Aquarium is celebrating their 15th anniversary this year and they wanted to create more visibility,” said Heyburn.

The wall facing the river is blank and doesn’t express that it’s an aquarium other than a neon sign added Heyburn.

Webster said due to the numerous projects going on at once, Artworks had applicants fill out a form to help determine what mural project they would most like to work on. She was most excited about the process of working at the aquarium.

“I love deep sea animals and I’ve never really painted them before, but I like biology and learning about that,” said Webster.

Ian Hermanns, a junior printmaking major, did not know much about Artworks before applying to be an apprentice.

“My mom had told me about it this summer. So I applied and went down for the interview and got the job,” said Hermanns.

Hermanns had difficulty at first with learning painting techniques.

“When I first started they said that I kind of painted like a printmaker,” said Hermanns.

He said he painted with sharp lines as opposed to a more feathery style.

Hermanns’ initial troubles were very different from Webster’s troubles. Webster has a fear of heights and painted on different levels of the scaffolding throughout the hot summer.

“I’m already afraid of heights so the fourth and fifth levels were really windy and extended out over the plaza,” said Webster.

The group’s main challenge, according to Webster, was making the multi-person work look unified and fluid.

“Working with a group is something different. So communicating with other team members and trying to make the whole piece look like one person did it,” said Hermanns.
Both Webster and Hermanns hope to work with Artworks in the future. Hermanns would like to be a teacher’s assistant through Artworks next year and Webster plans to apply for an apprenticeship again next year.