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BATS Mural brings community together

The art 433 class works to complete a mural, 2008. Courtesy Photo | University Communications

A collaborative, interdisciplinary project that teams up SVSU students from multiple majors to complete painted murals in various local communities is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The BATS Project, short for business, arts, theater and sociology, has been bringing together the disciplines incorporated in its name since the Winter 2012 semester.

Michael Mosher, professor of art/ communication and multimedia, has been painting murals since high school. He brought his love of the art form with him when he joined SVSU faculty in 2000.

Mosher completed his first mural project in 2002 at the Trinity Center in Saginaw, where he guided a group of students ages 10-17 in completing a mural in the gymnasium.

In Winter 2008, after several more murals were completed, Mosher held the first class dedicated to the process where SVSU art students returned to the Trinity Center to guide young artists in painting another mural.

Art 433 has completed many community murals since its first semester. According to Mosher, there are differences between community murals and other forms of street art.

“Community murals are responsive to the neighborhood, site, people who live and work there, and involves them in the process at several crucial stages”, he said. “Their involvement makes them value and protect it more.”

The inaugural year of the BATS Project came in 2012 when business and theater students joined Art 433 students in completing several murals displayed on campus and elsewhere.

Since then, teams of students have completed works displayed at The Dow Event Center, First Ward Community Center and Handley Elementary School to name a few.

Mosher said the additional students have aided greatly in producing the many murals. “Students helped generate content on social issues, helped paint, enlisted muralists in theatrical skits and benefited from working with vital, creative artists,” he said. Professor David Rzeszutek elaborated on the role that his theater students have played in the project’s collaborations.

“The Theatre students have taken the data collected, or the stories shared from community members and created scenes inspired by the information”, he said. “I have traditionally been a guide to help devise and shape the stories, and to help coordinate the live event.”

Management professor Joseph Ofori- Dankwa said his business students have also had many rewarding experiences over the years.

“The beauty of (the project) is that we have our students collaborating across disciplines and it strongly broadens perspectives”, he said.

Along the way, the collaboration has continued to grow, with sociology students joining the project in 2016.

This year, the mural will also incorporate feedback from students in the healthcare and social work disciplines as the completed pieces will be displayed on campus in the Health and Human Services Building and the Social Work Seminar Rooms.

For students interested in the Winter 2022 Art 433 course, the prerequisites can be waived. Contact Professor Mosher at mosher@svsu.edu for more details.

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