By Joshua Herring
Honors student Benjamin Hoffman has studied fine arts, art education and music at KU since 2009. His senior capstone project developed out of both his love for art and his passion for music. Set to be installed in the summer of 2015, “Celebrating 150 Years of Music Through Public Art” will be Hoffman’s culminating contribution to KU’s sesquicentennial celebration.
Hoffman’s capstone project will be comprised of a large-scale mural accompanied with four tapestries. After receiving approval from Dean William Dempsey, Music Department Chair Jeremy Justeson, his advisor Dr. Daniel Haxall of the fine arts department, and Director of Disability Services Karen Schoenborn, Hoffman began working with the Sesquicentennial Committee in hopes of presenting “Celebrating 150 Years of Music Through Public Art” at the formal dedication ceremony taking place in the fall of 2015.
“This is a way of giving back to the music department and at the same time, creating a nice gesture for Kutztown’s sesquicentennial celebration,” says Hoffman. The idea for his capstone project grew out of his experiences studying art and working with the music department for almost five years.
“The project will serve as a contribution to the music department, but it’s also a cool opportunity to bridge my artistic talent with my passion for music,” said Hoffman. With the help of a few other art students, the entire mural and four tapestries will be painted and professionally printed this coming spring semester.
“Celebrating 150 Year of Music Through Public Art” was originally planned to fill the space along the staircase in the Schaeffer building where a Paul Heron mural now exists.
Now, still at Schaeffer, the project is arranged to be installed on the back wall of the large rehearsal room.
According to Hoffman, achieving any space at all is remarkable. “We typically don’t have space for public art or murals as students. I’ve always been interested in public art, so it’s exciting to be planning something that is going to be permanent,” he said.
This piece strays from Hoffman’s typical abstract and geometric style. He says that the mural will incorporate, “figurative puzzle pieces painted together almost like a collage, including things such as Kutztown architecture, music ensembles like the marching band and the orchestra, a motif of myself playing the tuba, and possibly an inside view of the Schaeffer Auditorium.”
Each tapestry, to be hung beside each window across from the mural, will represent a different organization of the music department: Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha, and Sigma Alpha Lota. At the end of the hallway, Hoffman will install a commemorative plaque, which will include the name of all contributing patrons.
“My biggest hurdle is money,” says Hoffman. The project costs about $3,000, but with advice from advisors at the capstone project Work In Progress Seminar (WIPS), Hoffman is developing an incentive project where donations are met with personalized post cards and sketches of the prospective mural.
After installation, Hoffman hopes that students and all visitors to the Schaeffer building will “appreciate and react to the art in a different space.” To those attending the formal dedication ceremony at the sesquicentennial celebration, he aspires to have “Celebrating 150 Years of Music Through Public Art” debuted with “big, ceremonial scissors.”
Anyone wishing to donate should contact Benjamin Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the “Celebrating 150 Years of Music Through Public Art” Facebook page.