Shimer Mural Dedication
Born in the fall of 2004, the Shimer College mural project took shape when the Waukegan Public Library’s Executive Director Richard Lee and Public Relations Manager Elizabeth Stearns sought a design to cover the bookmobile garage doors on the Martin Luther King Drive side of the library building – a span of nearly 600 square feet. They then contacted Shimer Professor Stuart Patterson, seeking guidance in creating a design.
Starting with Stearns’ proposal for the theme: “The Art of the Story,” Patterson formed an elective course to enlist students’ broad knowledge of the world’s classic stories to conceive, design, and finally create the mural. While the mural design began in the Shimer classroom (and dorm rooms), the intent was always to highlight the Library’s role in Waukegan, along with the college’s, as well as the history of the town itself and its current mix of residents.
When the painting finally began late in the summer of 2005, the broader Waukegan community became fully involved in the process. Sherwin Williams of Gurnee donated thousands of dollars of paint, and the Ace hardware store at the corner of Grand and Genesee all the brushes, sponges, and pans necessary to realizing the design. Over a series of painting days, Patterson and the mural class collaborated with Library staff and a few hundred Waukegan residents and families in laying down the first coats of paint.
Various characters from literature fill the expanse, such as Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, and the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Unlikely associations, such as Mr. Hyde pushing Mr. Jekyll on a swing, create a playful atmosphere among characters. Nefertiti, Nancy Drew, Ferdinand the Bull, and the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz all make appearances. Patterson notes “part of what we wanted to do was look at how the stories might interact because none take precedence over the others and they’re all in the mix.” The mural dedication will take place at the Waukegan Public Library on Tuesday, October 17 at 4 p.m. All are welcome to attend.