ImpactSpring 2011

Art with a heart: Design student creates Honors legacy

When Ashley Seaton ’10 came up with the idea for her senior Honors Project, she wasn’t even sure it would be possible.  A Visual Communication Design major and Business minor, Ashley has always had a passion for the arts. So when it came time to propose her Honors College project (an independent project required of all upperclassmen in the program), she decided to do something unique.

“I wanted to use my honors project as an opportunity to give back to the University,” Ashley says, “and to merge different facets of the campus community. “I really wanted to pick a project that would incorporate student involvement, allow me to give back to the University, and incorporate aspects of both my major and my minor,” she says.

Her plan: a public work of art that would unite the campus community by reflecting images that embody UIndy’s students, community, diversity, and traditions. Ashley’s project, dubbed “Mural to Merge,” began with sketches and notes about what kinds of images should be included in the mural—but she didn’t limit herself to her own ideas. She spread blank journals around campus that she had labeled with the project’s name and a brief description. She also created a Facebook page to encourage students to contribute their thoughts and ideas.

Ashley spent the summer between her junior and senior year on campus doing woodworking—designing and cutting the pieces of the mural with the help of her project advisor, professor Jim Viewegh of the Art Department. Employing ideas from the journals and Facebook, Ashley created pop-art pieces representing themes of time, travel, education, and art, each relating to an aspect of the UIndy experience.

Back at the University in the fall, Ashley hosted a campus-wide event where students were invited to help paint a piece of the mural in a “paint-by-numbers” fashion. “It was important to me that students from around the campus be involved at every step of the way,” Ashley says. “It was my goal to leave the mural not as my personal legacy, but as a legacy to the combined experiences and diversity of past, present, and future students at UIndy”—the “merge” component of the project’s title.

Once the mural was completed, Ashley hosted a gallery opening in February 2010 to display the completed work and share its concepts and the process with the visitors. The finished mural now presides over one of the busiest spaces on campus: the Schwitzer Student Center dining hall, where it can be seen by any student or visitor to the University.

In addition to being an artistically inclined member of the Honors College, Ashley was a scholar-athlete. She was a proud member of UIndy’s women’s golf team—which finished the 2009–10 season with the highest cumulative team GPA of any college women’s golf team, at any level, in the country. Ashley graduated in May 2010, then snagged a plum job: she’s now the Internet services coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.

She credits her experiences at UIndy for helping her land an awesome job right out of school. The experience of dedicating two years of work to a project so dynamic and influential didn’t hurt either. “I learned how fulfilling it is,” she says, “to set a goal—something that seems overwhelming and unreachable at times—and to get there.”

the authorMarty