Art students assist in service-learning project in Homer

Apr 11, 2012 | General News, Liberal Arts

Louisiana Tech associate professor of art Nick Bustamante is bringing art to a new forum in North Louisiana with the Homermural Project. Bustamante said the mural will be in located in Homer and will represent the parish’s agricultural heritage by featuring cotton wagons going to the cotton gin, as well as other symbolic representations. “The Homer Colored College is depicted with a portrait of its most famous visiting professor, Dr. George Washington Carver,” Bustamante said. “The dairy industry was prominent in Claiborne Parish as well; the Claiborne Creamery was home to Home-R-Maid ice cream for many years.” The mural will also feature peach orchards, which were once an early project of the North Louisiana Hill Farm Research Station in the parish. Bustamante said several long-time residents would remember the scene of blooming peach trees across the rolling hills. Bustamante said five undergraduate art students from Tech make up the painting crew, and the mural is based off of an original painting by Judy Peterson Buckner, a local artist. “I am the lead painter and painting crew coordinator in charge of supervising the implementation of the project,” Bustamante said. “I have also set up a website, that will allow visitors to view the project’s progress, which will be updated weekly on the timeline page.” The project originated March 15 and has a projected finish date of May 25. Bustamante said the idea for the project began when Cynthia Steele attended the Global Mural Conference in Colquitt and met people from around the world who had developed murals in their regions. As a result, the murals proved to serve as a tourist attraction as well as economically boost the community. “Cynthia Steele wrote a grant and received funding from the state’s Decentralized Art Fund,” Bustamante said. “ Additional funding came from the Claiborne Jubilee, which is an organization that works with the town of Homer to facilitate economic and community development in the parish.  Many area citizens are helping to make the mural possible by lending painting supplies (and) scaffolding.  In addition, both Fine Line Art Supply and M&M Sound and Media have donated their professional services to document this project.” He credits his students for their hard work with the project. “Even though these students are getting class credit, all of them have already worked well beyond the designated class time and many drive over an hour to the mural site every week,” he said. “It has been an amazing experience working with a group of people who share the same passion and dedication for the project.” Although he has taught summer art camps in Homer the past two years and has developed a strong professional relationship with the community, Bustamante said this is the first project he has done of its kind. “Homer is a small rural town; murals of this scale and quality usually happen in larger cities with much bigger budgets,” Bustamante said. “The mural project is being done on one third of the average operating budget.” He said for the project to become a reality, everyone has had to pool their resources and come together as a team. “This has been a great opportunity for Tech students to gain valuable real world experience and become actively involved with surrounding communities,” Bustamante said. “We have only been working on the mural for a few weeks now, and I can already see these dedicated students truly growing from experience.” Story written by Sarah Brown, a senior journalism major