PITTSBURG — Thanks to a grant from Southeast Kansas Art Fest, students in the Pittsburg State University art department got hands-on experience with outdoor murals in an effort to bring eye-catching crosswalks to elementary students.

Art students, along with Department Chair James Oliver, began work on the “Crosswalk Mural Project” at about 4 p.m. Thursday at Meadowlark Elementary at 1602 East 20th St.

“One of my former colleagues saw an event similar to this on Facebook, reached out to me, and said ‘why can’t be do something like this in Pittsburg,’” Oliver said. “The students in the color theory course last semester designed each of the murals and then the school district superintendent chose the four that would be executed at each of the schools.”

The artists are scheduled to paint murals at Westside on April 20, George Nettles on April 27, and Lakeside on May 4. However, those dates could change depending on the weather, as the project requires weather be dry and the temperature be at least 50 degrees for the paint to adhere properly.

"We were very excited when Professor Oliver submitted his application for the PSU art students to create colorful crosswalks at our local elementary schools," Jenna Spencer, SEK Art Fest head and PSU art department graduate, said in a release. "This project not only supplies our community with incredible art, but it also serves as a way to bring awareness, and through that, safety, to the busy crosswalks by the elementary schools."

The murals themselves will inject color and abstract patterns to otherwise unadorned crosswalks. The Meadowlark piece, for instance, resembles a colorful hole in the ground.

“We’re just trying to bring some color and life to the front of the schools in a different way,” Oliver said. “Plus it lets our students be out in the community working and for people to see the various skill sets we offer in the department.”

Oliver said he is excited to finally get started on the project, given the delays caused by the weather.

“I’m thrilled to have the students work on them and have the chance to engage with the elementary students at the same time,” he said. “We offer a lot of opportunities in the department and this highlights those kinds of opportunities — our students have the chance to see that their work can make an impact out in the community.”

— Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.