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Ray Troll Mural Brings Art to Egan

The Mural includes a plethora of salmon swimming up from the lecture hall up to the Glacier Room, and has two humpback whales on the outer wall of the landing as well as one large humpback whale jumping out of the water on the main, large wall.

By: Hollis Kitchin

From Feb. 9 to Feb. 13, Ketchikan Artist Ray Troll and a slew of UAS students worked diligently to paint a mural in the Egan building on campus.

The Mural includes a plethora of salmon swimming up from the lecture hall up to the Glacier Room, and has two humpback whales on the outer wall of the landing as well as one large humpback whale jumping out of the water on the main, large wall.

When asked about the original design for the mural Troll explained: “I drew Spike (the whale) for that space, and I knew that I wanted to draw it back towards the left.  I hadn't really paid any attention to the stairway before I got there, but I knew they were there.”

When entering the space, Troll saw the stairs, and it immediately caught his attention, “That (painting the stairs) was much more improvisational (once) I figured out how they would flow up the stairs, I just had to paint it.”

Working for 5 days straight from 9:00 a.m. to about 6:00 p.m., and pulling one late-nighte session on Thursday Feb. 12, Troll and the various students that volunteered to help him paint completed the collaborative portion of the Mural.

“Ray Troll is one of the most personable people I have ever met. With all the fame and praise that surrounds him, he's unfathomably humble. I really respect that,” 22-year-old UAS student Sterling Snyder said.

Troll will also be installing a 7 inch by 12 inch oil painting of salmon spawning with a forest background on the cement wall below the image of Spike jumping out of the water.  Troll is hopeful that he will be finished with it in time for the 2009 Fall Semester.

“It was Ray's idea to come and spend a week here, painting the projected images with students. We had only asked him for the oil painting,” Painting, drawing and art history instructor Jane Terzis said. “Presenting students the opportunity to work side-by-side with a distinguished Alaskan artist and to have had a hand in a public artwork gives the mural, and the building, a particular vitality.”

When UAS was first built it was, and still is exempt, from the usual requirement to have 1% of building funds to go towards permanently installed artwork on the grounds of educational facilities. Because of the lack of art, Terzis got together with Chancellor John Pugh, retired Professor Alice Tersteeg and Facilites Director Keith Gerken to discuss the possibilities of where to put artwork.

“When I met with the committee, I planned that I would expand it out and paint it on the walls and work with students and staff, Jane worked with me on one day. This is one of the first times I will have done this technique and it'll be more permanent,” Troll stated.

With the place in mind chosen, Ray Troll was contacted about a year and a half ago when UAS awarded Troll with an Honorary Degree and this month the student collaboration began. Some students happened to be walking by and offered to help out, while others were sent over by Terzis and Professor Jeremy Kane.

“Working with Ray Troll is like working with an eccentric uncle,” Snyder said. “He's down to earth, funny, has great stories and knows when to give you advice or a compliment.  He even called on my birthday and sang to me.  How cool is that?

During the first few days of painting, five or six students at a time were able to help Troll as they were painting on ground level and could easily get the salmon painted without the need of ladders and boom lifts (also known as cherry pickers). Later on in the week, only two or three students could contribute their painting efforts with the wave patterns and, finally, the outline of Spike the whale.

“Up close, you're just painting a bunch of funny little lines, but when you step back and take it all in, the result is stunning,” Snyder said referring to the experience of using over-head projectors to paint Troll's work. Boni Parker, an art major in her junior year from Anchorage went on to add, “It's such a fun opportunity for students to help with something that’s permanently part of the school and hang out with such a cool artist.”

With the students artist collaboration section of the mural completed, the campus waits anxiously for the return of Ray Troll and the final touch to the mural. Troll is “Hoping that it (the mural) will be a catalyst and will encourage more art to be around campus and that people will pick up the brush as well because there are a lot of blank walls.”
 
 

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