KOKOMO, Ind. – An Indiana University Kokomo professor will tell the campus’ story in artwork, with a mural in the Student Activities and Events Center.
Michael Koerner, associate professor of new media, art, and technology, was chosen from among 25 Indiana artists to create the work, which will commemorate IU’s bicentennial, and IU Kokomo’s 75th anniversary.
The mural, titled Our Story, includes 12 panels, each 6-foot by 4-foot showcasing themes of Then, Now, and Future.
“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to be involved in this project,” he said. “I feel it’s my story as well when I call it Our Story. I feel it’s a very inclusive title. I’ve always felt this is my family here. To be able to leave a lasting impression and interpretation of that is a real honor.”
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated Koerner, noting the selection committee reviewed all submissions without names on them, before choosing five finalists to present their proposals.
“I’m very proud to showcase the talents of one of our faculty members in such a prominent project,” she said. “I know Michael will create a work of art that will represent us well, and serve as a focal point in our new Student Activities and Events Center.”
The artwork, which will be the first regional campus history mural, was commissioned by IU’s Office of the Bicentennial.
As he considered his proposal, Koerner focused on storytelling, creating a narrative from the left panel across.
“The painting itself should really be story centric,” he said. “It should be about our involvement with in the community, our student and faculty successes, international travel, the KEY program, and athletics. It should be intertwining narratives that make up IU Kokomo’s story.”
He presented sketches of the first three panels in his Zoom meeting with the selection committee, featuring images of Miami Indians and life on the plains, with clouds signifying the passage of time. World War II and the Bunker Hill Air Base are represented by Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, with the Seiberling Mansion, IU Kokomo’s first home, on the right-hand size, under a crimson sky.
Koerner is currently sketching the remaining nine panels, while the panels for his work are being fabricated in California. He’s also expanding his home studio, converting some of his family’s living space into work areas because of the project’s scale.
“I’ve worked on a number of large-scale installations, but this is physically the largest piece I will have developed in my career,” he said. “It’s an opportunity I am very excited about.”
He expects to begin painting in October, with the work completed for installation by early May.
The mural will be installed above the bleachers in the Student Activities and Events Center (SAEC), the 23,500 gross square-foot center that opened in August. It will serve students as a venue for meetings, campus events, and co-curricular activities, and also will be home to Cougar athletic teams. With a few minor adjustments — curtains, carpet squares, and lighting — it can be transformed into an elegant gathering space, for dinners, galas, and other events.
With the need for more classroom space because of the COVID-19 pandemic, classes are being held in the center during the fall semester.
Indiana University was founded on January 20, 1820, making it one of the oldest public universities in the nation. To celebrate its Bicentennial, IU has developed a multi-year, multi-campus program that will recognize and chronicle IU history, showcase the university’s significant contributions to the world, and set a course for the next century. For more information about the Bicentennial program, please visit 200.iu.edu/