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Chelsea Cooper Leaves Her Mark on Keuka College

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Photo by Giorgio Varlaro

When Keuka College senior Chelsea Cooper left campus for winter break in December 2017, she went home thinking about her upcoming Field Period®, one that would see her return to campus in January.

Associate Professor of Art Melissa Newcomb had asked the art and design major to paint a quote on the second-floor studio inside Allen Hall, home to the art program. Chelsea was looking forward to it.

But during the evening of January 1, just days before Chelsea was to begin her Field Period®, a water pipe connected to the fire suppression system on Allen Hall’s third floor ruptured. Heavy damage occurred throughout the building, leaving it uninhabitable

While heartbroken that the studio space, along with some of her art pieces, were destroyed, Chelsea was not discouraged, and another opportunity to fulfill her Field Period® requirement presented itself.

“Professor Newcomb was asked by Registrar Jill Bird if an art student could create a mural in the registrar’s office,” says Chelsea. “Professor Newcomb thought this would be a great opportunity for me and asked if I was interested. I was, and am super excited to do my first-ever mural.”

Inspired by her hobby of creating unique hand-painted tile coasters, Chelsea turned to Pinterest, the popular social media platform, to solidify her design.

“I enjoy scrolling through all the colorful tiles people have in their homes, and am particularly drawn to the Mexican hand-painted tiles,” says Chelsea. “The mural is of tiles that I created using paint, rather than ceramic tiles. I used tape, a tiny paint roller, my paintbrushes, paint, and my handy-dandy ruler to make sure the tiles all are the same size, and that the spacing between each tile is equal.”

“When we reorganized the registrar’s office, the counter wall where students come in looked like a blank canvas!” says Jill. “I asked Melissa if she could have a student paint a mural for us. Chelsea moved her Field Period® from painting on a wall in Allen Hall to ours. Not a day goes by when students, faculty, and staff don’t comment on how beautiful it looks.” 

Located on the front reception desk in the registrar’s office, Chelsea’s mural will be the first thing people see when they enter. Most of Chelsea’s hand-painted tiles are eight-by-eight inches, with some additional smaller tiles. The full mural measures about 82 inches by about 44 inches.

“I know the staff in the office love the mural, and will take great care of it once it is completed,” says Chelsea. “They love to see a new tile pattern traced on the wall and seeing me add color to the tiles. Once I finish painting a tile’s pattern, they come out to observe the finished peice. They love how the tiles look like real ceramic.”

By painting this mural, Chelsea believes she is leaving a small mark on campus.

“It is a neat feeling,” says Chelsea. “It also shows me how I have changed through my four years here on campus."

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