Art students contribute another mural to downtown Pittsburg 

The mural movement in Pittsburg continues with the latest one to be completed on a business: a 12-foot by 29-foot tigress created by Pittsburg State students that has drawn a great deal of attention on social media and in traditional media since its installation Friday. 

Here, the story behind it.

Tiger mural

The mural was conceptualized, designed, and painted by nine students in Jamie Oliver’s mural painting class in the Department of Art.

Oliver's past classes have been responsible for other notable community mural projects, including “Southeast Kansas Love Story” at 310 N. Broadway, featuring a young miner giving flowers to a girl holding a chicken, and colorful crosswalks at Lakeside Elementary, George Nettels Elementary, Westside Elementary, and Meadowlark Elementary. 

Mural Love Story

“Students in this course learn how to develop ideas, create scale versions of their work, collaborate with clients, and begin to understand how being grant funded works,” Oliver said.  

The tigress mural, funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas, is comprised of several panels that were painted in Porter Hall and then transported downtown, where they were attached to the south exterior wall of Main Street Axe Company, 216 S. Broadway, in a vertical configuration spanning the building’s height. 

“Students first met with the clients, Ben and Michelle Fowler, at the location, talked about the client’s hopes for the look and scale of it, and then each student developed an idea for the client to review,” Oliver said.  

Ultimately, a design by Hannah Kinsey, an artist from Grove, Oklahoma, was chosen. Kinsey is working toward a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis in illustration and visual storytelling. 

“The tigress embodies inner strength and courage, the cacti and succulents that border her serve as a reminder of perseverance, the circuit board that weaves between the other elements symbolizes the support and connections of the community, and each is important to the functionality of the whole motherboard,” Kinsey explained. “The lizards provide a pop of fun color and a reminder of good fortune.” 

Over a span of several months, students went about translating her design to scale and laying in paint with a variety of both contemporary and traditional large-scale techniques that Oliver teaches in the course. 

Kinsey said the process of bringing it to completion taught her that even large and intimidating goals can be achieved by breaking down the big picture into manageable steps. 

Also contributing time and talent were: 

  • Alexis Hoftiezer, an art education major from Aurora, Missouri 
  • George Hatcher, a 2D art major from the Dominican Republic and California 
  • Abby McCoy, a 2D art major from Pittsburg who graduated in December 2021 
  • Samantha Moua, an illustration/visual storytelling major from Fresno, California 
  • Emma Stachowiak, an art education major from Overland Park, Kansas 
  • Amber Smith, a creative writing major with an art minor from Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Deanna Korthals, an art education major from Baxter Springs, Kansas 
  • Morgan Cravens, an art education major from DeSoto, Kansas 

“The project seemed a bit overwhelming at first,” Hatcher said. “But my classmates really came together and made it a very fun and rewarding experience.” 

Moua said the experience taught her about collaboration, and was much different than working on her usual small scale projects. 

“It was an unforgettable and rewarding experience!” she said. 

Oliver said it would not have been possible without the support of the Community Foundation, the partnership with Ben and Michelle Fowler, and the creative designs and dedication of the nine students.

Said Smith: "I'm so excited to get to drive by something I had a small hand in creating every day!” 

Learn more:

Art Department