When St. Clair resident Shonda Suermann talks about getting ready for her biggest art project to date, she is correct in more ways than one.
Suermann, 20, a 2010 St. Clair High School graduate and current East Central College student, is preparing to show off her talents in a grand way as she will be painting a large mural on the handball court wall in Orchard Park.
St. Clair Park and Recreation Board members gave their approval for the project earlier this summer. Suermann will be painting as soon as all the supplies have been gathered.
“I never expected to be able to do something like this,” Suermann told The Missourian. “I’m so excited. It’s a big project, and I want to do it right. I’m just giddy about doing it.”
The mural will depict one of St. Clair’s points of interest — the caboose and the surrounding area of City Park on Main Street.
Chad Owens, a non-voting member of the park board, recommended Suermann for the project. He also is working on getting paint and other supplies donated through various local businesses.
Suermann also is donating her time.
“This is such a good opportunity for me,” she said. “This means a lot for me to do this. This is my hometown. To do something like this here is exciting.”
Suermann got to know Owens through visiting the Main Dish restaurant in St. Clair. She and her friends went there for lunch, and she got to know manager Gina Duty and Owens. Suermann said she noticed other artwork displayed on the walls there and asked if she could do that as well.
Duty said yes and through that, Owens thought Suermann would be the perfect individual to help the city with the mural project.
Suermann brought a thumbnail sketch of the caboose mural as well as one that showed the city’s hot and cold water towers combined with the old International Shoe Factory building to a recent park board meeting. Board members preferred the caboose, and they approved the project.
“I think we should give her creative freedom for this,” park board member Letha Childers said. “I am very excited about her doing this.”
Other board members agreed.
Love of Art
Suermann started to concentrate on art when she enrolled at ECC, even though she said she has had an interest in art and drawing for about half of her life.
“When I was 10, my dad died,” she said. “When that happened, I got really depressed, and I turned to drawing as a release. It became my escape.
“It’s now turned into my passion. I love it. It puts me in my own little world.”
Suermann said she took basic art classes at SCHS and while at ECC she “is taking as many art classes as I can.”
Her major is graphic design, and she is hoping to land a job in the future as a designer where she also can use her art talents.
As far as her specific work, Suermann said she has painted murals before, but never to the scale she will be doing so for the city.
“I go to people’s houses and paint murals on their walls,” she said. “I’ve painted walls at my grandma’s house and others.”
She said her largest project to date is painting every wall in a cousin’s bedroom.
“I’m really looking forward to doing this for the city,” she said. “I can’t wait to get going. And I can’t wait to see it when it’s all done. It’s just so great that I will be doing this.”