Student Artist Spotlight: Regan Kinney ’20 designs mural for canal trail, approved by City Council

The drawing by Regan Kinney ‘20 depicts several historical components of the Lehigh Valley, including the canal and the Bethlehem Steel Stacks. Photo courtesy of Regan Kinney ’20

“Student Artist Spotlight” is part of a series meant to highlight the achievements of student artists at the college. 

The Easton canal trail will soon be home to a large-scale mural, currently planned to be 57 feet wide and 10-18 feet high, highlighting the rich historical impact the canal has had on the Easton community as well as its development over time.

Regan Kinney ‘20, an art student, plans to come back to Lafayette in the weeks leading up to the fall 2018 semester and hopefully finish the project by the start of the academic year.

“I wanted to include the history of the trail and the canals because of the incredible impact [they have] had on the east coast,” Kinney said. “I wanted to incorporate every aspect of what was brought from the canal, from the industrial and lumber yards, but really bringing the focus on to the actual canal and the boats.”

The mural will cover what is currently a derelict and heavily graffitied concrete wall. Kinney’s sketch consists of a slow plodding of the mules and gentle curls of smoke from distant steel stacks which invites the viewer into an idyllic vision of Easton’s past.

“The rolling hills and the mountains are like the rolling hills I grew up around in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains,” Kinney said.

Six students have been working since last semester on one project for Lafayette’s Technology Clinic. These students reached out to Kinney to see if she would be interested in creating the mural. She sent them a potential design of the mural, which the Tech Clinic sent to Dave Hopkins, the Director of Public Works, who sent it to City Council. Members of the Tech Clinic and Kinney went before City Council to present their design, and it was approved, according to Claire Grunewald ’20, a student on the Tech Clinic team.

According to the City Council resolution approving the mural, it is set to be located “along the Lehigh Towpath, just west of the S. 3rd St. Dr. George Smith Memorial Bridge.”

Grunewald added that the design currently plans for a mural 57 feet wide and 18 feet tall. Its height may be compressed to 10 feet in the future.

Though Kinney does not have any experience with murals, she said her experience has prepared her well for this job.

“[For] my whole life I’ve been doing art. My parents would tell stories about me doing art with my older siblings when they were doing projects for school. I was always very hands-on, I loved doing crafts,” Kinney said.

Taking AP Studio, an art class offered through the Advanced Placement curriculum, Kinney was able to explore her interests and further develop her skills during her senior year, leading to her interest in art at the college level.

“My view on art has changed a lot since high school,” Kinney said, “Talking with professors has allowed me to experience the more philosophical side of art.”

In addition to collaborating with the professors on campus, Kinney has also gotten to work with several artists from New York City through Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute– a professional print shop located on campus.

Kinney said that the stress of working with these artists to perfect their work is very different from working on her own project, where she has more freedom to exercise artistic license and tune the artworks to reflect her own vision.

However, the mural is not without its own challenges.

“I’ve never worked on this scale before. It will be a challenge to get used to the materials, and also the way I’m painting it,” she said, adding that she will be using a scissor lift to access the higher parts of the mural.

Though she grew up in Colorado, Kinney still feels a connection with the Easton community and is happy to give back.

“I am super grateful for going to school here and all the opportunities I have had,” she said, “this is kind of my way of giving back to the community.”

About Benjamin Fuller

Ben Fuller '21 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. He studies math and computer science, with a minor in religious studies.

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