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SJU Senior Selected as Muralist for Kentucky Community Project

Friday, November 21, 2014

A St. John’s graphic design major has been commissioned by the Three Points Beautification Project in Louisville, KY, to create a wall mural as part of an urban redevelopment plan. The project’s goal is to make an intersection connecting three heavily trafficked Louisville neighborhoods easy to identify and aesthetically pleasing.

“I’m happy to have an opportunity to use my talents to enhance the public square,” said Henry Cunningham ’15C, a Louisville native. “It’s very gratifying to use the skills I’ve gained at St. John’s to help revitalize the area where I got my start.” The project’s curator, an admirer of Cunningham’s work, chose him to help design and paint the mural.

“It’s great to see one of our seniors selected for such a meaningful professional project before graduation,” said Belenna M. Lauto, professor and chair of art and design. “Henry is uniquely equipped to do this project because he is able to bring his graffiti-inspired experience to his graphic-design work.”

Cunningham’s interest in art was sparked in high school, when friends introduced him to the world of graffiti. “I realized how much I enjoyed expressing myself visually,” he said. Throughout high school and for several years after, he developed his craft without the benefit of formal training. His paintings and large stencils were exhibited by the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Cunningham also created a gallery space to display local artists’ work.

After taking a graphic design course, Cunningham decided to pursue a degree in the field at St. John’s. “The choice was obvious,” he said. “The University’s Department of Art and Design offered something I didn’t see anywhere else—a deep personal involvement on the part of faculty.”  

Cunningham says he has benefited from the portfolio reviews professors conduct each semester, as well as their willingness to provide feedback as needed. “Since coming to St. John’s,” he said, “I’ve become a better designer and a far more disciplined artist, with the tools to work in a cross-section of mediums.”

Through two internships, Cunningham has gained experience in online advertising, branding, and lettering and has expanded his industry contacts. His work has been featured in SJU’s Dr. M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Gallery during the 2013 and 2014 Annual Student Art Exhibitions.

Cunningham hopes to eventually work at a design firm with a collaborative work environment and to launch a mural-making program for inner city children. “If the last two years are anything to go by, Henry will keep on developing as an artist and designer, and embrace new challenges,” said Aaris Sherin, associate professor of art and design.  “I look forward to following his continued success.”