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Art with a heart

Design student creates Honors legacy

When Ashley Seaton first came up with the idea for her senior Honors Project, she wasn’t even sure it would be possible. A Visual Communication Design major and Business minor, Ashley has always had a passion for the arts. So when it came time to propose her independent project (required of Honors College upperclassmen), she decided to do something unique.

Ashley Seaton (Center) directs students who help finish the mural in paint-by-number style.

“I wanted to use my honors project as an opportunity to give back to the University,” Ashley says, “and to merge different facets of the campus community. I also wanted to incorporate aspects of both my major and minor.”

Her plan: a public work of art that would unite the campus community by reflecting images that embody UIndy’s students, community, diversity, and traditions.

Ashley’s project, dubbed “Mural to Merge,” began with sketches and notes about what kinds of images should be included in the mural—but not just her own ideas. She spread blank journals, labeled with the project’s name and a brief description, around campus, and created a Facebook page to encourage students to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Ashley spent the summer between her junior and senior year on campus doing woodworking—designing and cutting the pieces of the mural with the help of her project advisor, art professor Jim Viewegh.

Ashley works with Professor Viewegh to hang mural in Schwitzer Dining Hall

Employing ideas from the journals and Facebook, Ashley created pop-art pieces representing themes of time, travel, education, and art, each relating to an aspect of the UIndy experience. Back on campus in the fall, Ashley hosted a campus-wide event where students were invited to help paint a piece of the mural in a “paint-by-numbers” format.

“It was important to me that students from around campus be involved at every step of the way,” Ashley says. “It was my goal to leave the mural not as my personal legacy, but as a legacy to the combined experiences and diversity of past, present, and future students at UIndy.”

Once the mural was completed, Ashley hosted a gallery opening in February of her senior year to display the completed work and share its concepts and the process with the visitors. The mural now presides over the Schwitzer Student Center dining hall, where every student can see it. In addition to her Honors College success, Ashley was a member of UIndy’s women’s golf team—which finished the 2009–10 season with the highest cumulative team GPA of any college women’s golf team, at any level, in the country. Ashley graduated in May 2010 and snagged a plum job: she’s now the Internet services coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. She credits her experiences at UIndy for helping her land an awesome job right out of school. The experience of dedicating two years of work to a project so dynamic and influential didn’t hurt either.

“I learned how fulfilling it is to set a goal—something that seems overwhelming and unreachable at times—and to get there.”