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CCU Atheneum: From left, back row, Morgan Hedgecock, Emily Beekman, Cat Taylor, Shawn Doublet, Lucy Romanik and Jesse Lindler. In front, Katherine Parris and Amanda Kurfehs. The team worked from about 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day for three weeks on the mural.
From left, back row, Morgan Hedgecock, Emily Beekman, Cat Taylor, Shawn Doublet, Lucy Romanik and Jesse Lindler. In front, Katherine Parris and Amanda Kurfehs. The team worked from about 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day for three weeks on the mural.

'A dark and stormy ocean' comes to the CSC wave pool

by Lindsey Hanks
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Maymester students at Coastal Carolina University recently transformed a blank white wall in the Coastal Science Center (CSC) into a brilliant blue and white ocean with crashing waves and gathering clouds.

Eight students, led by CCU professor of visual arts Brian “Cat” Taylor, completed a 77-by-15-foot hand-painted mural in the Fluid Dynamics Lab as part of a visual arts Maymester course. Taylor and his students were asked by faculty in CCU’s Department of Marine Science in mid-January to paint a piece to serve as the backdrop for the future recirculating water channel in the lab at the CSC, across U.S. 501 from main campus.

The painting depicts ocean water and air turbulence. According to Lucy Romanik, a junior double major in studio art and psychology who played a significant role in the planning process, she and her classmates were given a lot of creative freedom with this project.

“We started off with a few different ideas to convey the idea of turbulence and the way air and water move,” said Romanik, who is in CCU’s honors program.

According to Romanik, the first piece they designed simulated the way a chicken flies and moves through the air. The second design is a dual representation of the ocean and the sky, showing an overlap of sharks and birds that illustrates the turbulence of water and air.

The final product found in Room 178 of the CSC, designed by Taylor and painted by students, depicts a beautiful, post-impressionist piece, inspired by the style and brush strokes of painter Vincent Van Gogh.

“The idea is that it looks like a storm is brewing,” Romanik said. “It’s painted as if you are looking at the scene of swirling clouds and blue waves crashing through glass or a camera lens. As the waves crash, the white sections are like the parts of the waves and water that would hit the camera.”

The entire mural was designed and laid out using Adobe Photoshop before any painting began. The digital image was split up into four sections, and each section was projected onto the blank wall. The outlines of the image were then traced and numbered. Once the bones of the image were on the wall, each of the sections was numbered according to the paint-by-number method, much like a coloring book.

The classmates often worked in teams to tackle different stages of the process to complete the impressive piece of artwork.

“The base consists of the darkest of each color, so after the base coat was down, we added the middle and the light colors over top,” Romanik said. “We would have two or three people behind each other painting over top of one another with wet paint on wet paint to create a blended effect.”

A clear coat of paint was then added on top of the finished mural to make it shiny and smooth to the touch.

Romanik, Taylor and the team of seven students typically worked from about 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day for three weeks. They finished a week earlier than similar projects Romanik worked on in previous semesters. In May 2015, she and another group of students painted the mural on the sculpture garden walls at the rear of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts building.

“Both times I’ve worked with Cat, it has been a great experience,” she said. “Classes like this usually take much more than regular class time, but it is all worth it in the end.”

The other students on the team are Emily Beekman, a junior art studio major from Fairfax, Va.; Jesse Lindler, a senior graphic design major from Chapin, S.C.; Amanda Kurfehs, a senior studio art major from Sea Girt, N.J.; Katherine Parris, a junior art studio major from Myrtle Beach; Meagan Runyon, a junior studio art major from Myrtle Beach; Morgan Hedgecock, a senior studio art major from Summerfield, N.C.; and Shawn Doublet, a senior art studio major from Conway.

According to Erin Hackett, assistant professor in the School of Coastal and Marine Systems science, the water channel in front of the mural will be used to study the turbulence generated when water flows over a solid boundary known as the bottom boundary layer that forms over the seabed in the ocean floor.

“We will add different types of bottoms to the tank to model different kinds of sea floor features, such as ripples or seabed slopes,” said Hackett. “The facility will also be used to examine wakes and turbulence behind structures that are blocking the flow, propulsion of marine organisms, and other biophysical interactions between fluids and marine organisms.”

The estimated completion date for the water channel is September, and the first pieces of the tank will be moved into the lab by the end of June.

 

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