Earlham College junior Kate Wallace has designed a new street art project that is the focal point of a neighborhood safety initiative by the City of Richmond.
Wallace joined a team of volunteers this week to paint the mural in the city’s historic Starr Neighborhood at the intersection of North 19th and C streets. The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce joined city officials for a ribbon cutting project on Tuesday to celebrate the project’s completion.
“I was really excited to get my work out there and get my name out there,” said Wallace, a studio art major from Cambridge City, Indiana. “Projects like these can bring art to the average person without having to go inside a gallery to see it. And it’s great if my work can promote safety and the other benefits that the city is hoping will come from this project.”
The mural incorporates shapes that are characteristic of the city’s history as a birthplace of recorded jazz and the former headquarters of the Starr Piano Company and Gennett Records. City officials say the painted curb bump outs and enhanced crosswalk design will help visually slow traffic, improving safety for residents and for children walking to Starr Elementary School.
“Projects like these can bring art to the average person without having to go inside a gallery to see it. And it’s great if my work can promote safety and the other benefits that the city is hoping will come from this project.”
— Kate Wallace
The project was funded by a grant from the Urban Enterprise Association and follows a series of recent investments in the Starr Neighborhood, which included construction of a new playground at Starr Park.
At Earlham, Wallace’s studies are heavily concentrated on ceramics, but she also has an extensive background in painting and drawing. In addition to majoring in studio art, she is pursuing a minor in art history and an applied minor in education to prepare for a future vocation as a teacher.
“I knew Earlham was right for me when I had an overnight visit and the students took me under their wing and made feel right at home,” Wallace said. “Earlham was the perfect for me and I am so glad I chose this school. Some of my most memorable experiences have been making art in the classroom, doing 24-hour theatre, and spending late nights in the ceramics studio.”
Wallace has had a busy summer. In addition to sitting in on planning sessions with the City for the mural project, she has also been a special events intern at the Richmond Art Museum. The internship is part of her summer of service that is required by the Bonner Scholars program.
“I’m doing a little bit of everything, from setting up to taking down shows and getting ready for events,” Wallace said. “I also work with the permanent collection and have been helping with the museum’s summer youth art camps.”
She also earned her first credits as an illustrator in Wayne County author Bess Sturgis’ fifth children’s book, Algernon and Zef.
Now entering the second half of her Earlham education, Wallace eager to build upon a strong resume in the local arts scene.
“I never thought I’d do anything like this, but I think it’s great,” she said. “I’m excited for what’s going to come my way and who I’m going to meet in the future by working with the city on this.”