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Painted mural adds school spirit

By Staff | Feb 15, 2017

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Art students at Muncy High School were able to work on a mural for the gymnasium under the direction of art teacher, Beth Crissman and artist-in-residence Victoria Thompson-Hess.

MUNCY – The school spirit at Muncy High School just got more ignition. For in the gymnasium is a large painted mural above the bleachers titled “The Tribe.”

It was a student project led by the art teacher, Beth Crissman and organized under the direction of artist-in-residence, Victoria Thompson-Hess of Muncy. There are five panels each measuring 5×10 to make one large canvas.

Crissman said they chose the gym to add some color to the walls and to add some school spirit. “It was very bland here,” she said.

Previously two large works of art, including a mosaic, were added to the cafeteria and one in the library. “We are also doing some inspirational quotes in the hallways to create a more positive atmosphere so students want to come, and are excited being here,” Crissman replied.

The first mural was done 3 years ago, but this is the first one that is a paining.

Funding for the project came from the First Community Foundation and the school’s education foundation. Thompson-Hess started the project in late October. Senior student Pat Empen came up with the idea for the design and drew a sketch. “He likes to draw,” said Crissman.

Hess then took the drawing to her home studio and began enlarging the design that measured 10×24 feet. The students painted the faces and the 13 Indians on the panels.

“Regalia on the Indians is representative of tribes from the east to the west coast,” explained Thompson-Hess.

On the warm days in October they would work outside on the school parking lot where there was more room. The students chose the colors and Thompson-Hess said she drew the costuming.

When the cold weather approached, they moved the panels inside to the art room. Students from the Art Club, Student Council and the Key Club all worked on the mural. The classes representing all grade levels 9th through 12th would work on the project on Wednesdays.

The rolled canvas was then seamed and mounted on plywood. The maintenance department built the wooden frame and fastened it to the gymnasium wall with scaffolding on the very last day in January. “I was still on scaffolding touching up the seams and doing finishing touches, while they were mounting,” said Crissman who has taught art at the school for 12 years. “They had this up in no time.”

“This was the first painting that was attached on a wall,” said Thompson-Hess who said she had to paint the mural horizontally on table tops with the students. “This mural was laid on, squatted on, sat on, you name it, it was used.” Once it was mounted, the students claimed that section of the gym as their own designated area. “It is where the kids are allowed to sit, stand and cheer during the games,” Crissman said. The students also came up with the slogan “The Tribe” and Crissman hand painted the letters.

A varnish will be applied in the summer to help protect the acrylic painting. A smaller mural of an Indian was painted in 1993 by Corey Brieneisen, also in the gymnasium.

The work is permanent and the student artists said it will be neat to come back years later to see their work. Thompson-Hess said this is the third generation for her at Muncy High School. “My husband went here, I went here, my kids went here, and now my grandkids are here,” she replied.

When asked if they will do more paintings, Crissman said, “We are not stopping until every wall is filled.”