Murals from faculty member, graduate to be placed at Grand Rapids airport

November 28, 2023 (Volume 47, Number 7)
Article by Samantha Drougel

Jill Eggers, associate professor of visual and media arts, will share her love of the Michigan forest with travelers at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. 

Eggers was one of five artists selected to paint a collection of murals that will be placed in the airport at the beginning of the new year. 

The artists involved in this project were given very specific prompts all relating to West Michigan. Even though Eggers is not a muralist, she said she wanted to be a part of this beautification project.

“It very much suits my work,” Eggers said. “My studio work is all made from the forests of Michigan.”

As an oil painter, she said using mostly acrylic paint was challenging. Other muralists recommended she use good quality house paint because of the large 30-foot area. Eggers said using the house paint was challenging because “it behaves differently than oil paint.” She mixed in some artist acrylic to get the right colors.

“I found that I don’t use 10 colors, I use like 400,” said Eggers. 

She based her mural on one of her older paintings, “Returning to Earth,” set in a forest in the Upper Peninsula. It is one of her favorite paintings.

“I really like this painting and it was also one of my simpler paintings. I thought it would be a good starting point," she said.

Eggers expanded on that original artwork, filling it in based on other photos she has taken within forests around Michigan. She is a trail runner and goes out to the forest daily for photos, adding she has more than 1,000 photographs of forests. 

“I love these forests,” said Eggers. “I feel like my soul lives in these forests.”

The main focal point of the mural is a wetland area set in Good Harbor in northern Michigan. 

"Adding the wetland allows the mural to move from the forest to an open wetland, to include a full range of what is found in the natural West Michigan landscape," Eggers said. “I wanted to make a painting that was very complex because people can be stuck in the airport for a very long time."

One of Eggers's former students, Grand Valley graduate Annie Bueno, was also selected for this project. Bueno's painting will focus on West Michigan architecture.

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This article was last edited on November 28, 2023 at 11:30 a.m.

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