The project began as a checklist of the places and objects that Carlisle High School students considered important to the town’s past, present and future.
That checklist became images.
Those images were revealed to the public Thursday as Color Carlisle’s first mural was installed on the northern wall of Stock Hall at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at the corner of West Louther and North West streets.
The mural project is a collaboration between Color Carlisle and the Carlisle Area School District. Artist Ophelia Chambliss was the artist in residence for the project, working with portfolio-level art students at the high school since last September and supervising the installation.
“It’s very exciting. This has been a long time coming,” Ashley Gogoj said.
As the art teacher who led the students through the project, Gogoj knows the wait between finishing the mural and installing it has been difficult.
The students finished painting the mural at the end of October with plans to install it in early November. Cold weather set in the week they planned to install it and didn’t release it’s grip until recently.
Students didn’t forget about the project, Gogoj said, but their interest waned a little as they watched weather reports through November without seeing conditions favorable to installing the mural.
That changed when they started checking the weather reports again in March.
“Since the weather started turning, we’ve been building and building and building with excitement for them,” she said.
The mural was created on parachute paper, which was then carefully rolled and placed in plastic. Numbers written on the plastic told the installation team where to place each of the six panels. Students slathered their gloved hands with a special glue, which they spread all over the back of the mural panel. The panel was then handed up to a team of adults on scaffolding who lined up the images and smoothed out the panel.
Chambliss had told the students the process would take two to three hours at most once they got started. By just a little after noon, the main panels had been installed and “flyout” add-on pieces were being added to cover uneven edges.
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Greg Guenther, president of the Color Carlisle advisory board, was thankful the wait was over, noting that the timing worked out well with the Amani Festival coming up next week and another potential project on the wall at Sadler Health Center in the first block of West Louther Street in early discussions.
“Exhilarating is the best word to describe this just because there are so many aspects to it. It’s so bright. It’s finally spring. It’s this piece of art going into the community right at the perfect time. It’s exhilarating to see all these students be a part of it and feel passionate about putting it up,” he said.
As Chambliss was preparing the students for the installation, she told them it would be up for 30 years, which Gogoj said made a lot of the students proud of what they had accomplished.
“It’s cool to know, as high schoolers, that we did something that’s going to be around forever,” junior Hannah Aust said.
The mural features images of landmarks like the Carlisle Theatre and the Old Courthouse, as well as images symbolic of the area’s agricultural heritage and the iconic red Adirondack chairs at Dickinson College.
As they sketched out the mural, Chambliss talked to them about the need to tie the objects together in the mural. She drew an infinity symbol that became that tying factor as a shaded overlay on the mural.
Now and in the future, the students will be able to point out their favorite parts of the mural, including those parts they painted.
“I really like the hands holding the tomato. I think that turned out so well,” junior Hailey Myers said. “That’s really symbolic of the community and Project SHARE.”
Early on in the process, Chambliss said she took photos of the wall from different points along the block. The decision was made to position the mural closer to the street-side edge of the wall for maximum visibility to passersby.
Guenther said the mural will require little maintenance. The color may fade, but it will not peel as would a mural painted directly on the brick.
Prints of the mural will also be for sale. Chambliss will touch up the drawing, and the prints will be made by the Dickinson College print program. The details of how and when they will be for sale have not been finalized.