It began in the pages of Katie Lowery’s sketchbook. Each page contained a piece of a larger image she envisioned—an image of Ashmore, Ill., past and present.
Through her talent and dedication paired with Eastern Illinois University students’ and Ashmore community members’ hard work, her image is displayed in the center of the community.
The two-piece mural lies in Ashmore Village Park. It depicts the past and present of the village with farmland weaved together with current buildings of the village. It also depicts the changes in the farming industry throughout the years.
Lowery, a St. Anne native and graduate of EIU’s art department with a graphic design concentration, wanted a chance to give back to her university community when Rachel Fisher, director of the Office of Community Service, reached out to her. “She asked if I wanted to paint a mural again,” Lowery said.
This isn’t Lowery’s first experience with mural painting. Back in her hometown of St. Anne, Lowery painted a Coca-Cola mural on the side of a grocery store after her high school teacher asked for her assistance. That mural is modeled after the 5 cent vintage bottles.
For the Ashmore project, Lowery began crafting her vision of by meeting with the mayor and getting a feel of the community. “He gave the initial layout of what he wanted,” she said. “Then I took it from there.” Throughout the project, Lowery used the skills she developed and groomed within EIU’s Art Department.
She started by drawing the ideas on individual 8 by 11 inch sheets of paper. After the sketchbook was finished, Lowery started drawing on the actual buildings using a large projector screen to trace her image.
Yet, the project wasn’t just about Lowery’s design work. According to Mayor Kurt Crail, community members took an active role too, spending many hot, summer days painting the mural under Lowery’s direction of where to paint.
With the community’s help, the project was completed in about two weeks.
According to Crail, the mural project was an on-going initiative to spruce up the community. In the past, EIU students helped paint murals on old buildings right off Route 16 and he decided to reach out to Fisher and her group. The plan was to transform the plain buildings within the park into a display of Ashmore’s history, Crail said. The mural was officially revealed during a ceremony at the Annual Ashmore Ag Day Festival in the summer.
“It’s all about the community and working with other communities,” Crail said. “EIU has been fantastic to work with on projects in our community.”
Although Lowery currently works as an intern designing catalogues for Modern Plum, a linen company, she hopes one day to move to California and continue her passion for art by painting billboards.