'Work In Progress' Mural Honoring Influential Women Comes To Utah State University

Jan 26, 2018

Arie French, a student at Utah State University, chose to make a stencil portrait of Maya Angelou at Friday’s “Work in Progress” workshop in the Merrill-Cazier Library.

“Right now all of the parts with shadows on the picture, I’m cutting those out, because those are the ones that are going to get the paint,” French said. “And then, there’s this big elaborate headpiece, so I’m going to cut that out and then do the finer details on it later and color those in.”

When it’s finished, it will be added to a mural project called “Work in Progress” by artists Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake. The project is Haworth’s brainchild, inspired by her work as one of the artists who created the iconic cover of the Beatle’s album “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“Rolling Stone published a sort of review of Sergeant Pepper, saying it was the greatest album of all time,” Haworth said. “Which I dispute, I’ll say that right away. And it occurred to me that it might be interesting to do some mathematics about that and see how many women, how much ethnic diversity is on the cover. What were we thinking in 1967 that we have transcended now?”

Haworth knew she could do better now. This formed the basis of her project SLC Pepper, a mural full of influential figures. Work in Progress is the next step — a community project honoring hundreds of influential women. She said the majority of the people who contribute to the mural in her workshops don’t consider themselves artists, which can make for a challenging start.

“Everybody panics,” she said. “I panic, because when I start to do a stencil cut, it’s in reverse. It’s counterintuitive.”

However, Haworth said, they get the hang of it pretty quickly.

“When they have cut the stencil, pushed the paint through the holes that represent the face and they unstick the masking tape and lift it up and see what they’ve done that is a recognizable portrait of somebody of significance, somebody that is a catalyst for change, there is a wonderful moment there that’s really pretty emotional,” Haworth said. “They’ve made something they didn’t know they could, and it’s happened in a couple of hours. So it’s really thrilling.”

A replica of the mural is on display at USU’s Merrill-Cazier Library until Mar. 29.