Graphic novels are known for depicted people with extraordinary powers who can protect humanity from harm. Mark Stutzman took this concept and applied it to a new mural installation that honors local Emergency Responders for the town of Oakland, MD. The artwork draws from the comic classics and tells a short story of first responders answering the call for help. On September 25, a special dedication ceremony honored service providers from the 911 Call Center, Town, County and State Police, Rescue Squad, Volunteer Fire Department, and the Hospital.
"When I took on the assignment," Stutzman explains, "I spoke with some volunteer firefighters. They expressed a dire need to recruit new volunteers. Volunteerism has decreased across the board for many organizations, so I saw this as an opportunity to speak to the next generation to fill these important jobs." With that in mind the mural artwork would need to be bright, colorful, and exciting to appeal to young impressionable minds.
The end result was a hit with the Town that commissioned the work, and the departments represented in the comic panels. Guest speakers expressed appreciation for the respect and admiration that was depicted in the various scenarios of the mural. There was also an understanding of the intent behind choosing this approach for the project.
"When I first came up with the idea, I wasn't certain it would be well received by the committee who would be approving it," Stutzman says. "The small rural town is relatively conservative withhistoric sites, so a more modern solution was going to be stretching the limits of their comfort zone." With some explanation of how the mural could serve a purpose and possibly ignite interest in future volunteerism, the committee approved the idea and endorse the motivation behind it.
The final artwork was inked traditionally, scanned and imported into Adobe Illustrator where color overlays of blue, red, and yellow were applied in solid tones and enlarged dot patterns. Depending on whether the viewer is near or far, the colors blend or the pattern becomes dominant and abstract.
"I wanted the art to have two vantage points for viewing. When one is close up, it's nearly abstract and wildly colorful. From a distance, the colors and patterns blend into a softer rendition of a page out of a classic comic book."
The mural was made possible through grant funding from the Oakland Mayor and Town Council, Garrett County Arts Council, The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development