By Samantha Dietel, Current Staff
Two orchestra students are leaving their mark—an enormous, colorful mark.
West Bend High School seniors Abigail Haas and Greta Polinski began painting their musical design, a vibrant image of an orchestral instrument, in the M hallway shortly after Thanksgiving break. The idea for the mural first materialized last year with the intention for the project to be a part of their orchestra final exam. Now, the freshly-completed painting serves as a lone shock of color on the plain white walls outside of the orchestra room.
According to Haas, a West senior, the project’s design was first drawn up and approved by former principal Tracey Conners during the 2016-17 school year. However, because the walls were to be painted over, the girls had to wait to begin their project.
“[Ms. Conners] told us we had to wait because they were painting over the walls and she didn’t want anything to accidentally get painted over,” Haas said.
Thus, the project was pushed back to this year. Before they could begin, the design had to be approved a second time after Conners’s departure. Once Thanksgiving break ended, the girls were finally able to start staying late after school to work on their mural.
Haas and Polinski completed the painting Friday. They touched up various parts of the mural and added the names of the entire 2018 senior class of orchestra students to the image. Their goal had been to finish the mural before their Scotland trip this spring, according to Polinski, an East senior.
Traditionally, the orchestra department schedules a trip to Scotland every three years. The next trip will be held in March, during spring break. This tradition actually inspired some components of the mural design. The white X found at the top of the mural represents the Scotland flag, and the unicorn also shares a connection with the nation.
“Scotland’s national animal is a unicorn, so I put a unicorn on it,” Haas said.
Unsurprisingly, instruments were central to the mural’s creative design. The artists chose the most basic design of the instrument so viewers would instantly recognize whether the image was, say, a violin or a cello.
To explain the design’s variant use of stark lines and color, Haas said, “I do a lot of work with color and Greta does a lot of linework in her art designs and stuff, so we kind of mashed that together.”
Haas and Polinski also added a sun and a Spartan helmet to represent East and West High Schools. In addition, the word ‘orchestra’ is written above the white, Scotland-inspired X.
Orchestra teacher Seth Matuszak and band director Leah Duckert both voiced their approval of the girls’ work.
“I think it’s really creative,” Matuszak said. “I’m happy to have students who are artistic not just in music, but also just in art in general.”
“I think arts are really important all over the place,” Duckert said. “Fine arts include, you know, music, but it also includes visual arts and I think that’s equally important too.”
According to Haas and Polinski, Duckert even suggested that they should make a mural for the band department. Matuszak made similar comments, expressing an interest for students to make more art for the music department as a whole.
“I’d like to definitely do more; there’s a lot of hallway,” he said. “I’m not even talking about specifically orchestra students, but you know it would be cool to get some choir—like a choir mural and a band mural and just make it a music-themed hallway. I think we should definitely put more on the walls. It’s just kind of plain back here.”
Matuszak might not have to wait long for more art. Haas, when asked if she and Polinski would consider doing any more art for the music hallway, showed enthusiasm.
“Definitely,” she said. “This is really fun. Coming in here and painting and just doing this is fun.”
(Top image: Greta Polinski, left, and Abigail Haas with their mural in the M hallway. Photo taken Thursday by Samantha Dietel, Current Staff.)