Smithton High School advanced art students have been looking into the eyes of the tiger all quarter as they created a three-dimensional mural for the Smithton Elementary School, representing the school’s mascot.
The trio of girls, Haley Henderson, a sophomore, and Aliza Smith and Sierra Smith, both juniors, worked 50 minutes a day, five days a week for eight weeks to complete their wooden 8-foot-wide emotigram project. They created the piece under the direction of SHS art teacher Mel Mercer.
“I was approached by the elementary principal, Mrs. McNeeley,” Mercer said. “She wanted something on the outside, and we had a couple locations to consider. Then we decided on the emotigram concept.”
An emotigram image changes depending on where the viewer is standing. When one views the mural, which is accordion-like in structure, from the right one sees only one tiger eye.
“This one (the right eye) was done with a Chuck Close-like style, with the squares,” Mercer said. “Chuck Close did everything in units, in squares. So you have this gradient fade across here. What we didn’t plan on, which I think is cool, is you get a refraction from this one hitting that one. So that’s a little darker value hitting it.”
While standing in the center the viewer sees both tiger eyes, but as they move to the left, only the left eye is visible. Mercer added that the left side or golden tiger eye was done in impressionistic style.”
The students picked the subject matter, Mercer guided them toward the artistic styles, and school custodians helped install the piece once it was finished.
The girls were chosen to work on the project because they were in Mercer’s advanced art class. They all agreed that at first they were nervous about working on the mural.
“There were a lot of measurements and stuff,” Henderson said.
But as it progressed, they became excited with the concept.
“We just finished it last week,” Sierra Smith added.
Smithton Elementary Principal Dawn McNeeley said the mural is bringing smiles, squeals of delight and complements.
“Is that not the coolest thing ever,” McNeeley added.
She said she enjoys watching the elementary children view the piece because they dance around and “ooh and awe” as they see the tiger eyes changing.
“They are just hilarious,” she added.
“It’s the emotigram dance,” Mercer added laughing.
“I’ve had lots of parents compliment on it already,” McNeeley said. “Students were just ecstatic. It’s very unique and I love it.”
As for the next art project, Henderson, who is in the SHS Art Club, already has plans. She wants to use chalk to create a three-dimensional drawing outdoors on the steps of the gymnasium.
“A lot of people, in New York City, they do three-dimensional sidewalks,” she said. “We are going to do a tiger on a leash.”
At present SHS art students are working on another mural in the gymnasium.
“I’m in art club and we are doing this big mural, a big tiger paw,” Henderson added. “It’s going to be like a big tiger paw indented into the wall and we’re going to put our fight song lyrics over the top of it.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.