Indiana State University Newsroom

Work on the latest Gilbert Wilson Mural Project to begin in May

March 13, 2013

Indiana State University art students, working with two professional artists with ties to Terre Haute, will begin work in May on the next Gilbert Wilson Memorial Mural Project. The latest mural will be located on the west wall of the Cox, Zwerner, Gambill and Sullivan Law Firm at 511 Wabash Ave.

The mural, funded by Indiana State University's Strategic Plan "Energize Downtown" initiative, will focus on the 2013 Year of the River initiative and is an activity associated with the College of Arts and Sciences' Community Semester series.

St. Louis artists Michael Neary and Amy MacLennan have been commissioned for the project, which provides a unique hands-on experience for Indiana State painting students.

"Students will not only learn about the demands of creating a large scale work of art, but also will help apply those understandings in its creation," said Brad Venable, associate professor of art. "Students will grow in their appreciation of how public art can benefit a community."

Neary earned a bachelor of fine arats from the Kansas City Art Institute and a master of fine arts degree in painting and drawing from Indiana University. His artwork consists primarily of still life and landscape painted from direct observation. These works have been exhibited at group exhibitions in museums and galleries in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, and most recently in "Realism and its Discontents," an exhibit co-sponsored by Wright State University and Manchester University.

He worked as a billboard painter, an occupation that brought him to Terre Haute in the early 1990s. He enjoyed the spirit and support of the arts community for more than 15 years. He was honored with a "Bravo! The Arts!" award in 2007, and benefitted from membership in Indiana State's Life Drawing Co-op, where he first met MacLennan. From his work in the billboard trade he developed an interest in large-scale pictorial possibilities.

MacLennan, assistant professor of art at McKendree University in Lebaon, Ill., grew up in the Terre Haute area and earned her master of fine arts degree in painting from Indiana State in 2007. Since then, as the recipient of a number of residency fellowships, she has travelled and created paintings and drawings based on a variety of American landscapes, from Peoria's industrial riverfront to the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Montana. As a member of the Midwest Paint Group she exhibits throughout the country. She was featured in the recent exhibit, "Realism and its Discontents."

MacLennan and Neary have collaborated on large projects in the past and said they are delighted with the opportunity to return to Terre Haute to take part in the Year of the River activities by creating a mural based on that theme.

The mural will join three others from the Gilbert Wilson project: the most recent work on the third floor of the Terre Haute Children's Museum by David Erickson, art professor emeritus at Indiana State, Tom Torluemke's mural at the Booker T. Washington Center, and the mural by Jeff Zimmerman on the south wall of the former Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club building on Third Street.

The Gilbert Wilson Memorial Mural Project, named after the prominent WPA artist, is an ongoing initiative of Indiana State's art department. Led by Venable and Nancy Nichols-Pethick, associate professor of art, its goal is to create public works of art in the Terre Haute community through engaged and collaborative activities with students, community members, and artists.

"The skills and the appreciation of public art our students will gain in this project will stay with them after graduation, following them in their future careers as they continue to make art that engages the communities where they will live," Venable said.

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or