The Art Around Campus Committee has been working for the past couple of years to bring our students some exterior artwork that both inspires and celebrates their studies, as well as connects our community to the local Dallas art scene.
Science Murals by Wheron, 2021. 8’x 9ft. Displayed on the exterior of The Cook Building.
Interview with the muralist ‘Wheron,’ February 2021:
What made you want to work in Dallas?
Being born and raised in Dallas, I think it is super important to continue creating art and supporting art here in the city limits. So often, artists think they need to move to NYC or LA to become successful, rather than focusing on the art scene in their own backyard... and Dallas has such an amazing local art scene of painters, sculptors, muralists, and performance artists.
What inspired the black & white cactus aesthetic that appears in a lot of your work, when/how did you discover this style?
A lot of my work, for both galleries and public art, stems from one of my favorite mediums of pen/ink illustration. My surrealist, minimal illustrations try and focus on design, so keeping them black and white allows me to not let color get in the way of the design... also when studying art history in college, I was often drawn to artists that used a minimal, monochromatic pallet.... like Keith Haring and his black and white subway drawings, or centuries-old traditions from Japan and Greece that utilize black and white, positive and negative space for the visual arts.
What's the design process when you work with a client?
Typically with a mural client, we discuss ideas and goals for the project, including any influences they hope to see in my artwork. I create multiple proposals for the wall space on my iPad (digital drawings). We edit the designs back and forth with the client, and when we both agree to the final design, then I start on the wall. I typically start with a spray paint sketch on the wall, and then use latex exterior paints and spray paints to complete the murals
How do you approach the creation of a mural from a technical perspective, and have you ever had to build scaffolding?
I touched on my technical approach in the previous question, but I tend to free-hand my designs straight onto the wall, drawing with a white or light grade spray paint for my "pencil" sketch on the wall. Then I layer black and white paints back and forth to create the monochromatic murals. For some projects that need to be EXACTLY matching my proposal, I will project the design at night from a projector and trace the lines with spray paint. Usually, I can complete walls using just step stools and ladders, but if the mural wall is taller than 10ft., then I build my scaffolding on wheels to reach up to 30ft. of wall space.
What's been your favorite project to date?
One of my favorite projects here in Dallas was a mural in West Dallas for my friend’s business (located at 435 Singleton Blvd). Not only was it close to my heart because I was painting it for one of my friend's shops, but it was created during the first Wild West Mural Fest - a West Dallas mural festival sponsored by the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce, which I have helped organize since its inception in 2018. Outside of Dallas, my favorite project would be the 200ft. mural I completed in November 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona, or my giant wall completed in 2017 for the Houston Mural Fest.
What did you enjoy about creating these two murals at ESD?
As an educator myself (still teaching part-time at a charter school not too far from ESD) I love creating murals FOR STUDENTS... so they can be inspired by artwork on a daily basis while at school. I loved creating the two walls at ESD and interacting with all the students and teachers who watched the process. I actually came up with the glassware/science tools imagery a few years ago for an illustration commission... so to be able to take these science surrealism ideas and be able to scale it up to giant murals for a school, was a dream!
2D Art students have been studying the play and placement of light and dark (Japanese Notan Design), for the past few years. Will Heron (Wheron) is one of the artists that they draw inspiration from during this unit.