Music Library Mural

Muralist finds connection between music and art

Local artist captures the vibe of the Music Library with jazz-inspired drawing

Artist Sarah Jane Ballentine feels a connection between art and music and the emotions they evoke through our senses.

“Art is this visual representation of the same thing that we feel when we hear music … but you feel and experience them both, and they are a lot alike” she says. “I love the connection.”

The subject she chose for a mural she created for the staircase wall in the Music Library, which is housed in the School of Music, reflects that connection. It features a jazz ensemble in an outdoor venue, which she created in rich jewel tones using chalk.

Ballentine, a junior art education major from Camden, South Carolina, is the sixth artist to leave her mark on the space in what has become an annual partnership between the Music Library and the Trenholm Artists Guild.

As vice president of the guild, Ballentine was chosen by the president of the organization to take on the project because of her involvement with the organization while still being a full-time student.

Her mural captures the musical vibe of the library with a large focus of the piece being a live jazz band, while also depicting the energy of being a student and the social life that comes along with it.

“I wanted to relate it back to music, but I also wanted to capture a moment in time that you would just want to be in forever and wouldn’t want to let go. So this is sort of just a jazzy, 1920s party. It’s outside and supposed to be fun and lively.”

Ballentine, who also owns her own event art business “EA by SJ” (short for Event Art by Sarah Jane), is the first female artist to contribute to the wall.

“The whole idea of this is to have a new community member every year and it's fun looking at the other ones in the past. Everyone is totally different with a different outlook or idea and emotion that they wanted to convey,” she says.

With the convenient location of the mural inside the Music Library, Ballentine hopes that her artwork will serve as an imaginative getaway during stressful times for students, who may be in the middle of a long study session or who may be tired and struggling as the school year goes on.

“You’re walking up the stairs and for the 20 or so seconds that it takes, you can be transported to this moment in time that is just a lot of fun to be in and hang on to. That is where a lot of the blank dance floor comes into play, you can insert yourself there,” she says.

Ballentine strives to use her passion for art to not only teach and inspire her students who may become the next generation of professional artists, but also to promote the benefits of being creative. She says there has been a shift in what is considered art and who can create it and become good at it.

“I definitely don’t think that every kid coming through my class is supposed to be an artist, but as far as education goes — whether they are going to become an artist or not — art does impact their lives and it helps them discover things about themselves,” she says.

She adds that she believes art can be beneficial to young adults in determining other skills such as critical thinking and that being creative can contribute to their well-being.

Ballentine is thankful for the opportunity to create her first mural, which also allowed her to practice a new skill set and learn more about her ability as an artist.

“I don’t think of it as ‘this is my wall.’ This is our wall, our community wall. This is my year’s contribution and then another artist will come and do great things and it is exciting to know that we have all been here and worked on this particular space.”

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