By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
TURBOTVILLE — More than a decade after Jonathan Laidacker started “eyeing up” the massive, exterior brick wall of Warrior Run Middle School’s auditorium, more than 100 people were on hand Wednesday evening to dedicate a 6,800-square-foot-mural, designed and painted by Laidacker and high school art teacher Joel Ryder.
The historical-based mural depicts life in the Turbotville area from American Indians and early settlers to modern times through six archways, which transition from black-and-white to color.
“Ten months ago, a large brick wall faced Susquehanna Avenue,” said Bernadette Boerckel, Warrior Run School District director of curriculum and instruction.
“Now, six magical portals transport us ... The brick wall disappears.”
Laidacker and Ryder were working on finishing touches on the mural until Wednesday’s unveiling, Ryder said.
“It was a lot of long hours,” Ryder said. “We painted pretty much until dark each day this week.”
Laidacker, a Philadelphia-based muralist and 2000 graduate of Warrior Run, agreed.
“Right now (I’m feeling) excitement,” he said. “After some time, it will be excitement and nostalgia.”
About 600 people — students and community members — contributed to the mural, through research, painting or design work, Laidacker said.
“We really put an emphasis on the public part of this public art,” he said.
The dedication was hosted by the Warrior Run School District and the Perry County Council of the Arts, which helped fund and coordinate Laidacker’s residency at Warrior Run.
Laidacker’s residency was 75 days, and part of a program that brings professional artists into classrooms, said Roger Smith, Perry County Council of the Arts executive director.
“Students and teachers interact with the artists and hear the artists’ stories and students learn skills from their bag of tricks and create something that is not part of the normal school curriculum,” he said.
The Warrior Run project also combined several areas of study, including history, art, math, computers and photography, said Philip Horn, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
“(These projects) pay dividends beyond just the creative realm,” he said.
That was the goal of the project from the beginning, Ryder said.
“We wanted to create a cross-curricular environment,” he said.
Horn also thanked Warrior Run administrators for daring to “dream big.”
“Thank you for having the courage to dream big for the students,” he said.
And while Ryder said he isn’t looking for another public mural project right now, the creative juices are still flowing.
“I already have some inside-the-building projects lined up for next year,” he said.