Keene State students are in the process of creating murals to display on the side of Brewbakers in downtown Keene.
The process began when Professor Emily Lambert noticed the empty space. “I noticed the blank white plywood and reached out to [Brewbakers], to see if they would be interested in some students doing temporary murals,” Lambert said.
From there, students who were interested in taking on this project created proposal drawings and presented them to the Brewbakers owners along with Eric Gagne, the Director of Nova Arts.
Shannon Parks was one of the students whose mural was chosen. “It’s an abstract piece,” she described. “I kind of see a landscape… It has this flowy line movement through the piece from the bottom right corner up until it runs [and] splits of.”
Parks also mentioned how the mural includes a variety of shapes and colors, which add to the abstractness of it. “These tan lines come across and then turn into yellow or green triangles. And then I have circles at the top in the corner, and then hexagons… It’s [portraying] where the sand meets the ocean and where the ocean meets the land,” Parks said.
The idea for Parks’ mural originally came from doodling in her sketchbook. “I have my sketchbook and I do these doodles,” Parks said. “[It] basically looks like this piece but broken down.” Lambert helped Parks combine her doodles to create this landscape design.
Graphic design student Katelyn Fisher also has a nature-based concept to her mural. Fisher described, “My mural is a deer standing in water with its head facing down and touching nose tips to a whale that’s underwater.”
Fisher’s work is the only black and white mural in the collection. “The other ones are a very different style, purely because of how colorful they are,” Fisher said. “Mine is the only one that kind of stands out because it’s in black and white… Straight up.”
Fisher has been having fun with the process and has learned to take risks. “Everyone has a different way of doing it,” Fisher said. “Particularly for me, my process is just, I kind of go for it.”
With the piece being black and white, Fisher uses a small paint brush and acrylic paint to get the job done. “Other people are using spray paint,” Fisher said. “They’re using different types of paint… It’s cool to see how other people are going about this too.”
Annabelle Koutroubas has been using a larger variety of materials for her mural. “My piece… is colorful, squiggly lines,” Koutroubas said. “I [am] filling them with acrylic paint and now I’m going in with oil pastels and chalk pastels and sharpies… I’m going to try some other markers.”
Koutroubas mentioned that painting isn’t her specialty, but she still hopes that viewers can take away something from her art. “It’s only goal now is to maybe brighten someone’s day up a little bit, because it’s very vibrant,” she said.
Lambert said that this project is a good opportunity for her students because it prepares them for real life situations in the art world. “I think this entire project was designed with keeping in mind how the students may handle presenting a proposal once they graduate,” Lambert said. Even though all the students who proposed artwork couldn’t be involved, Lambert said she still appreciates that this was a collaborative effort.
Lambert also mentioned that she hopes to continue having her students help create art in other parts of Keene. “I hope to continue [to] help enlist these students,” Lambert said. “And to find other locations in Keene and in the surrounding area that we might be able to try this in different ways.”
Through an email sent to The Equinox, Gagne explained the crucial role art has at Brewbakers. “We collaborate to ensure that whatever Nova is bringing in works logically with the cafe,” Gagne said. “And that everything aligns with the values of the business.” It is important that Gagne and the Brewbakers team create a safe space for customers, and to make it a space where people can see themselves in.
Through email, Eliza Murphy, the co-owner of Brewbakers, said, “We believe in making art accessible, and murals and public street art are one way to make that happen.” She said the students’ pieces were the perfect match for the personality of Brewbakers and the venue’s space.
According to Gagne, Nova Arts and the Brewbakers team chose the murals based on “which ones went together the best, and how [they] felt they would all look together… in place.” Gagne said that their team hopes this is the spark of an ongoing collaborative relationship with Keene State.
Murphy added, “Bright colors and flowing watery forms tied these five pieces together. We’re so appreciative of all the students who submitted.”
Students Kiera Flanders and Lucas Mohr also are featured on this project. The murals will be available for viewing starting December 17.
Nicole Dumont can be contacted at