Turning the Mundane into the Magical

Last year, Hannah Hakami ’18 spent the better part of her senior year turning an otherwise bland Upper School hallway into a vibrant work of art as part of her senior Tower Project.

For her senior Tower Project last year, Hannah Hakami ’18 wanted to create a public mural. But, as is the case with nearly every student’s Tower Project, she had to overcome a few hurdles to achieve her objective. “I contacted 10 neighborhoods in Milwaukee, explaining who I was and asking for an opportunity to paint an empty space, but no one got back to me,” she said. “I was worried and nervous.”

Administrators at USM stepped in and gave Hakami the opportunity to paint a third-floor hallway in the Upper School, which was essentially a blank canvas. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity because it’s an area where I spent a lot of time as a student, and I wanted to leave an impact on the USM community.”

Hakami researched the history of public art and graffiti, as well as color history, color theory and psychology, and mural techniques. “I went around and looked at murals in Milwaukee, and the ones in the Walker’s Point neighborhood inspired me the most with their simple designs and vibrancy. I came up with a basic geometric design of triangles, created mock-ups in Photoshop of what the mural could look like, and polled the USM community for feedback.”

To develop the vibrant color scheme for the space, Hakami used color theory research to narrow it down to 10 colors. “The colors have different meanings. Yellow is a color of happiness, orange is a color of enthusiasm, red is a color of passion, pink is a color of sensitivity, and purple is a color of imagination. I wanted all of these colors to be represented in the artwork.”

Once the design was finalized and approved, Hakami spent three days with a ruler and pencil free-forming the triangles on the walls. She then labeled them with a number (one through 10) that corresponded to each color. After taping off the triangles Hakami painted them, which took several weeks to complete, even with help from friends and family. For Hakami, who served as editor of the yearbook and played in three sports during her senior year—in addition to her schoolwork—the Tower Project was a labor of love. “In hindsight, I was maybe a little overambitious with what I wanted to do,” she said, “But you get out what you put in, and I’m really happy with the finished project. It was a great experience.”

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