Alma College’s Advanced Drawing and Painting class has completed a mural in downtown Alma at 201 W Superior Street.

Emily McDonald 


October 6, 2021 

Alma College’s Advanced Drawing and Painting class has completed a mural in downtown Alma at 201 W Superior Street. 

The project began when a local business owner and the Keep Alma Beautiful Committee reached out to professor Jillian Dickson. Students then pitched design ideas for the business owner to make a final selection for the piece that would be painted on the business’s outer-wall. Dickson says, “The professionalism in which each student prepared and built a proposed design for the space was inspiring. There were so many fantastic proposals.” 

While there were many impressive designs to choose from, it was the work of Sam Smith (‘22) that was ultimately selected to become the mural that the class would work to complete. 

When speaking of her design, Smith says, “I was drawn to the idea of incorporating the Pine River into the downtown space of Alma.  I was really inspired by simple geometric shaping being the basis for the whole design.  While a mural can be this amazingly rendered and complex piece of art, precise designs and color palettes are just as engaging and really nice to take pictures in front of.” 

The mural project was worked on with dedication from the Advanced Drawing and Painting classes and help from the Drawing I students. Dickson is proud of the effort of her students, saying “It was exciting to see students from every discipline and untwined major engage meaningfully in building professional art.” 

The art students put a lot of time and effort into this mural. Smith shares that one of their greatest difficulties with the project, besides finding time to work within their busy schedules, was painting on the brick material. 

“The cracks and divots make it really hard to have a smooth and even color coating, so you have to be really attentive to what you’re doing and fill in every little hole.” Smith explained. 

Professor Dickson hopes that the students involved with this project will learn to understand the impact of art on the community as well as the entrepreneurial opportunities that being an artist can provide. These lessons proved to be effective, at least for Smith who shares,  

“I enjoy this class with Jillian because we are really pushed to explore our creativity while simultaneously learning more about the professional job field for after graduation as art majors.  It really is the joy of having a liberal arts degree, we’re getting firsthand experience in all these areas of art outside the studio.”  

Smith comments, “To have a legacy as amazing as this is an honor as an Alma student.  I have known many of my classmates from this class since the first time I set foot into the Art department, so to be able to watch us grow as college students and work on this project together has created memories that will last a lifetime.  Alma has become a home to many students, so to be able to make our mark on the community is an honor.” 

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