It’s not every day you see a student and her professor lowering a 14-foot painting out of a third-story window, but that’s exactly what Lucy Walker ’14 and Mark Wethli, professor of art, did this summer with an oil paint mural of the Brunswick Town Green—the product of Walker’s years here at Bowdoin. It will be unveiled on November 16 in the waiting room of the Brunswick Mid Coast Primary Care and Walk-In Clinic.
“I came up with it the spring of my first year in a course called Public Art, and I was contacted that following summer asking if I wanted to actually make it,” said Walker.
“The Brunswick Downtown Association came to our class...and said that we could choose to work with any space in town. They were soliciting our ideas,” she added.
Walker’s original idea for her mural has since been adapted.
“I designed the mural, actually, for the wall of Hannaford that faces the train tracks, but that big blank wall now has a series of banners on it designed by a Bowdoin student who was in our class,” said Walker. “Then I sort of had to adapt it for the new space of the health clinic.”
Walker’s mural is a panorama of the town green centered around the gazebo. It shows the green changing through the seasons, full of families, runners, bikers, and a big farmer’s market scene.
“It’s just sort of celebrating that community of Brunswick,” explained Walker.
Walker said she spent a lot of time in the town center with her camera snapping pictures to give her ideas of what to paint.
“I was taking a ton of photos,” said Walker. “I spent time on the green photographing people...so most of the characters in the mural are real Brunswick town people.”
However, not all of the people in the painting are real Mainers. Walker admits to painting herself and her younger brother, Nick Walker ’16, into the mural.
Balancing the project with her academic work wasn’t always easy for Walker, and there were some semesters when the mural just sat in the studio. At points, Walker questioned her ability to finish.
“It’s really been a project about endurance,” she said. “I’ve never had to put out this kind of creative endurance before...I had a lot of moments of serious doubt.”
Walker began to focus on drawing in high school—particularly portraiture and realistic figurative painting—but she has been a creative being since childhood. At Bowdoin, she found herself inspired by the older students in her art classes.
“I was inspired by so much of the work that was coming out of [the Public Art class],” said Walker. “My first year, the class was basically juniors and seniors, which ended up being the best thing. I really admired their sense of vision and confidence.”
Three years after proposing the idea for her mural, Walker is about to see her painting hanging up in the real world in Brunswick.
“It feels very surreal right now,” she said. “I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s actually done. I’ll just be so happy to see it there, out in the community, because that’s where it should be. I’ve been alone with it in the studio for such a long time.”
Walker says she plans on visiting her mural often, since she’s become so attached to the characters she has studied, drawn and painted over the course of her Bowdoin experience.
“I just love each and every character,” Walker explained. “So it feels like I’m sending them off, but I’ll visit.”