Students compete for WAC


Maria Cardona

Voters line up with proposed names for upcoming murals in the South Loop. The voting period ends April 22 and individuals can only vote once at the Arcade, 618 S. Michigan Ave.

By Campus Editor

Columbia student artists will soon get the chance to leave their mark on their beloved college and join the ranks of renowned alumni and established local and international artists on the walls of the Wabash Arts Corridor.

Several student finalists have already been selected for the WAC competition, which will highlight two student muralists and one banner designer along Wabash Avenue during Manifest, Columbia’s end-of-the-year student showcase and celebration on May 13. 

The finalists were announced March 31 with the opening of an exhibit featuring their  “mini murals” and banner entries as well as a brief history of the WAC. 

The exhibit is housed in the Arcade Gallery, 619 S. Michigan Ave., and will run through April 22, according to Leo Selvaggio, coordinator of the Department of Exhibitions, Performance & Student Spaces and the college’s Workroom.

“The work is so impressive; I looked at every one of [the proposals] and said, ‘Give it to all of them,’” said Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success. 

The competition’s finalists include junior art & art history major Andrea Coleman; senior design majors Andrea Dunn, Nicole Garcia, Diana Polanco and Katie Wagner; junior photography major Charles Loggins; junior design major JJ McLuckie; and senior photography and American Sign Language-English interpretation double major Katie Strickland.

Of the two muralist winners, who will be announced April 26, the first will have their work displayed on the south-facing wall of the 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building next to the work of Heidi Unkefer, a former graphic designer for The Chronicle and a 2013 illustration alumna. Unkefer painted her cartoon mural in that space in early August of 2015. 

Six months later, the second muralist’s work will be painted over and become part of a rotating student mural competition, according to Kelly. 

The winner’s banner will be displayed above the Averill and Bernard Leviton A+D Gallery, 619 S. Wabash. 

The competition opened February 9 and ended March 8. The Wabash Arts Corridor Campus Committee juried and rated the 15 mural proposals and 14 banner proposals to select the top five for each category. 

The community can also vote for its favorite project in both the mural and banner categories at the gallery.

“We wanted to give that same community that’s supporting the [WAC] the opportunity to decide,” Selvaggio said. 

Winners will be announced April 26 and will join approximately 18 additional murals from various street artists and Columbia alumni for the inaugural Big Walls Street Art Festival, a display of public art projects by local and international artists, during May 1–13.