By Kaitlyn McCarthy
Students in Youngtown State University’s department of art collaborated with Lit Youngstown to create a memory mural on Andrews Avenue. A year later, 13 YSU students finished the bright and bold display curving along the road behind campus.
“I started the class that provided a platform for the mural to happen. We offered a mural class for the first time at YSU in fall of 2020. I designed the class to provide a hands-on experience,” art professor Dragana Crnjak said.
The mural serves as an appreciation for the city of Youngstown as well as a learning experience for students. Mia Mondora, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studio art, said her favorite part of working on the mural was the positive feedback from the community.
“Constantly, cars would stop by and give us moral support, thank us and say how beautiful the mural is,” Mondora said. “There was nothing better than knowing that our mural will bring happiness into the surrounding community.”
Every student created a different part of the project. Each part of the project represented a different part of the city. Junior studio art major Jayme McKay focused on the beauty of Mill Creek Metroparks on her part of the mural.
“My contribution to the mural was the trail of tulips leading to the Mill Creek Rose Garden archways. Mill Creek [MetroParks] is such a staple landmark and I wanted to represent the natural beauty in the area,” McKay said.
Crnjak feels the class is beneficial for art students because it teaches them to collaborate with others. Although this was a group project, each student could be creative with their contribution to the mural.
“The students are coming up with great ideas. I hope those [ideas] are being supported,” Crnjak said.
The wall is almost 1,000 feet in length, and the mural is over 100 feet long. Interdisciplinary studio art major Lindsay DeLullo said the size of the mural made her feel more confident as a painter.
“This was the largest of all I have ever worked on, and I can affirm wholeheartedly that it gave me much more confidence to paint on a much larger scale,” DeLullo said. “Generally, I paint and draw on a small scale, but being forced to confront this wall — which was three times my own height in places — has broadened my horizons.”
One of Crnjak’s main goals for her class is to influence everyone who sees the mural, not just her students. Since the mural has so many parts to it, many different cultures can appreciate the art.
“I hope that the mural celebrates — but also projects — complexity in the Youngstown area. It really reflects the complexity and richness of diversity and voices we have here. I hope people who drive by can [appreciate it],” Crnjak said. “We designed the mural in mind to reference historical and cultural aspects of the city and memories of the people who live here.”
According to Crnjak, larger projects like this mural require problem-solving to complete. She also thinks that she, along with the students, have learned from this experience with the mural.