Columbia arts program and Roots 'N' Blues plan collaboration

Thursday, August 21, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:50 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 21, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival will have a special mural on display this year — 4 feet tall and 24 feet wide with technicolor musicians, instruments and music notes.

It was created in the span of one week by 19 high school students, as part of the Columbia College high school Summer Arts Intensive program.

"We were a little concerned, like, 'How are they going to do?' " said Danielle Langdon, 2014 director of the program. "This is going to be on display."

The program allows students to take classes in photography, graphic design, jewelry-making and more. New this summer was the option for students to live on campus and take an additional class in the evening.

Lisa Bartlett, who taught a mixed media class for the program a few summers ago, suggested the collaboration with Roots 'N' Blues.

"These kids, they've probably never done anything like that," Bartlett said. In addition to teaching the mural class, Bartlett is also the art crew and visuals director for Roots 'N' Blues.

"We were thinking by this point, they're going to be exhausted," Langdon said, but the students were eager.

They finished the mural in just three days, well ahead of schedule, so Bartlett had them decorate the back of the mural as well. They also painted 7-foot decorative guitars as part of a "Guitarhenge" exhibit at the festival, she said.

"It's just big and bold," Bartlett said. "I think watching them just dive in, no hesitation, was really refreshing."

Langdon said the program allows them to consider art as a career, not just a hobby.

"It gives them a glimpse into what it would be like to actually study art at the college level," she said.

On the last day, three of the instructors explained how the skills the students acquired could lead to artistic careers.

"It's like doing a thumbnail sketch of the portrait," Langdon said. 

The mural was unveiled during Artrageous on July 18. Many of the artists attended with their parents.

"They were really excited for the outcome," Langdon said. "We could not have asked for it to go any better."

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