As you walk down the hallways of Merrill High School, it is hard to deny that art plays an important role in the building.
Eighty six master artists are represented in 4’ x 6’ paintings on the walls throughout the school. Each mural is protected under glass and framed, and engraved plaques identifying the title of the artwork, the original artist, date, and muralist are installed near each mural. A brief biography of each artist is near each painting.
In addition to these master reproductions, several large murals are placed in other areas of the school, including the commons, library, classrooms, and stairwells.
The Honors Art Mural Program began in 2005 as a collaboration between art teachers Linda DeBroux and Jean English, and with the blessing of then principal Brian Doran. Current principal Shannon Murray has continued to support the program, which recently completed its ninth consecutive summer.
Word has spread that painting a mural is a great way for students to “leave a legacy” in the school. The program attracts serious art students who make it a goal, beginning freshman year (or earlier) to work hard enough and be successful enough to be chosen for the prestigious summer art program. Beginning in June, after school is dismissed for the summer, selected student artists begin the task of transferring 4’ x 6’ scaled drawings to the brick walls and spend up to 15 hours a day for the next seven to 10 days to complete the paintings. In addition, each student is responsible for researching the master artist he or she has chosen.
Though school funding for the murals has declined over the years, generous private sponsors have contributed to the project. Each mural costs approximately $400 to glass and frame.
By the end of summer 2013, a total of 111 murals adorn the walls of Merrill High School, making it the only school in the state of Wisconsin, and quite possibly the nation, to offer its student body a gallery-like setting as they travel through the halls to classes.
A Mural Open House will be held Feb. 1, from noon-4 p.m. In conjunction with this year’s Open House, an alumni art show and Muralist Reunion are being planned.
Once again, the mural program welcomes sponsors. The cost to sponsor a mural, which pays for glass and framing, is $400. Partial sponsorships of $200 are also available, and any donations are appreciated. Mural sponsors are recognized on the plaque installed near each mural and receive a certificate of appreciation. If you are interested in becoming a mural sponsor, please contact mural workshop coordinators Linda DeBroux, 715-536-4594, ext. 18151 or Jean English, 715-536-8628.