By Tom Ramstetter
Web Marketing + Communications
Ian Hermanns has been living Shark Week nearly every day this summer.
The 20-year-old junior studio arts major from Anderson Township, Ohio, has been among several apprentices from ArtWorks painting a 35-foot-long sand tiger shark on the façade of Newport Aquarium. The massive painting facing the Ohio River will be the cornerstone of an aquatic-marine-life-themed mural celebrating the aquarium’s 15-year anniversary. It is part of the ArtWorks’s 2014 Public Art campaign (photo gallery).
Freshman Jenna Webster has also been working on the project.
The experience for Hermanns has been as massive as the shark.
“The Newport Aquarium and ArtWorks have made the project an excellent experience so far,” Ian said. “It is interesting to learn how to go about painting a mural of this large size because until now I have only worked on a much smaller scale, with clay sculptures and my printmaking. I have never been involved in a project like this before now.”
The SharkWall is ArtWorks’s largest project ever and the painting is not the only large aspect of the project.
“Having professional scaffolding, paints, and of course experienced artists provided has made the process go by much faster than I would have imagined,” Ian said. “And the Newport Aquarium has given exclusive viewings of animals that will be depicted on the wall so that we understand how they act and look up close, which has made the whole experience fun and all the more personal.”
While the mural is intended to catch the eye of potential visitors to the aquarium and spark interest in marine aquatic life and conservation, the experience for the artists is important, according to Newport Aquarium Vice President/Executive Director Eric Rose.
“Partnering with ArtWorks for this project provides a great opportunity for local youths in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities to showcase their artistic talents while developing their professional and life skills,” Rose said.
Ian has also developed a new appreciation for public art.
“Working on this project has proved to me the importance of public art,” Ian said. “Seeing people stop to look with interest, and being able to answer their questions is awesome. Ric Urban, Paula the penguin’s trainer at the aquarium, talked to us about how he wanted to illustrate technically accurate animals for books before he got a job working with animals at a zoo. This got me thinking about how art can be incorporated in anything, and good imagery has the power to sell an idea or a product.”
When Ian climbs down from the SharkWall scaffolds for the last time, he’ll turn his focus back to his printmaking at NKU.
“I am studying printmaking and traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and I will be going through portfolio review this year to hopefully switch my major to a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus on printmaking,” Ian said.