BATAVIA – With spring in bloom and the pandemic waning, there’s a feeling of revitalization in the air.
That’s the feeling that local art students have illustrated with a colorful series of murals at Batavia’s Water Street Studios.
Teams of art honor students from Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles North high schools responded to Water Street Director Taylor Egan’s challenge to produce the murals on an outdoor concrete retaining wall that faces the limestone gallery building.
On Friday, the students were putting the finishing touches on their creations even as family, friends and art lovers gathered for an opening reception.
Covering six-foot-tall by 12-foot-wide expanses of the poured concrete wall, each of the stunning murals has a unique take on the revitalization theme.
The Batavia High School mural is bursting with wildlife, featuring animals, birds, insects and flowers.
“We were really inspired by nature,” BHS graduating senior Sasha Nahorski said. “This was a super-exciting opportunity.”
The winding curves of a slithering snake extend the length of the piece, tying the elements together and serving as something of a timeline, said fellow senior Hailey Haddon, who was applying acrylic paint to the mural.
“It will withstand the elements and hopefully hold up for a while,” Haddon said.
The St. Charles North group produced a fanciful piece featuring a phoenix rising in the wake of a swirling vortex of butterflies and fresh lemons.
The students said they all had their own ideas but worked together to create a unified vision.
“We knew we wanted the phoenix,” GHS graduating senior Marissa Covello said.
The group from Geneva High School took yet another approach, using tarot card designs to craft a vision of the revitalization theme.
But like the other schools, GHS graduating seniors Kassidy Keenehan and Hannah Paschke said their group used a collaborative process to design and execute the mural.
The students from all three schools are members of the National Art Honor Society.
Their art teachers, including Sally Vincent of St. Charles North, Megan Kelly of Geneva and Dawn Zalkus of Batavia, said the opportunity was not to be missed.
“We jumped on it right away,” Vincent said. “This is a great spot to have art here. It’s not every day you’re asked to paint a mural.”
As part of the project, the students also created t-shirts to go with their mural designs.
Egan said that the revitalization theme is a good jumping off place for the students as they emerge from the trials of the pandemic and move to face new challenges.
“Art is about expression and where we are in our world,” Egan said. “There is so much that is positive for these students to focus on,” she said.
The retaining wall where the murals are featured runs along South Water Street and creates a sunken courtyard between the street and the art gallery.
Last year Egan secured permission from the Batavia City Council to utilize the retaining wall, which is owned by the city, for public art projects.