Logansport, IN USA (2020)
In mid-September 2020, I finished painting this mural on the Transco Railway building in Logansport, Indiana. I've always been interested in history and when given the opportunity to tie together historical elements of the local area with imagery that's relatable on a grander scale, I jumped at it. Through a local committee, I was provided with a list of potential keywords that I could choose and build from. I chose railroads, history, and hobos.
Given that the building itself is surrounded by trains and works on railcars, I didn't feel the need to paint yet another boxcar and instead focused on the story of the American Hobo. Those looking to travel across the continent to find work, experience the vast array of landscapes and varying populations that inhabit the country. I think that it's a mindset that many of us share as children. We all start with an eagerness to experience everything that life has to offer and a yearning for adventure, though, for many, that tends to fade as we age. With this in mind, I set out to find imagery that included children rather than older figures. To think of it as a starting point of a journey, of life. The image that I settled upon as my main reference is one that I found in the National Archive, which I then spent time colorizing based on what clothing would have been available during the great depression and ensuring that the various mechanisms from the boxcar doors were also era-appropriate.
I chose the image as a reference because I related to it. I could see myself as both figures. The one already in the car pushing his friend to join him as the train was taking off, and as the hesitant figure unsure of where the train car could take them. I've heard countless other interpretations of the work over the past month, ranging from one friend offering a helping hand to the other, to nostalgic recollections of people young and old doing exactly this to get from one side of town to the other. The train car itself is but an accessory in the story, a means to an end, though I chose to utilize it as a sort of frame and setting, keeping a large portion of the building itself and the architecture as important elements in the piece. Recognizable enough to create a connection with the subject and history, though minimal enough that it didn't detract from the image itself. I also wanted to ensure that it would be viewable from a distance, before crossing the bridge on 18th St.
In the end, this was one of my most challenging walls. The surfaces varied in depth and texture and required me to keep changing my methods of painting, and it is the largest wall that I've painted of all of my work in any country. I also tried to paint everything so that it would be viewable from the street and everything would align from the viewpoint of those driving across the bridge rather than someone looking directly from the train yard. It was an amazing experience and I'm in love with the outcome, so a big thanks to Tetia Lee of The Arts Federation for making it all possible, and to the City of Logansport, Indiana, as well as the members of the local arts committee who selected me as the artist in the first place.
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City of Logansport, Indiana