Megan Taylor, a recent Marshall University graduate with a degree in graphic design, always thought Gilbert, West Virginia could use a little artistic flair. “Just driving through Gilbert, I had always thought we needed public art, a mural, or some color throughout town,” she says. “There was a specific wall I was drawn to, which is the wall the mural is painted on now.”
Bringing Art to Gilbert
After getting her degree, she knew she ought to contact the mayor and see if they could make a mural happen in Gilbert. “We scheduled a meeting to discuss a mural, but to my surprise, we talked about other jobs I could do, such as redesign their website, create social media posts, and other design tasks,” Megan says. “So just by asking about painting a mural, I became the town’s graphic designer!”
Megan started working on the design in October 2020. “I knew I wanted to highlight the flora and fauna from the area, as well as the common recreational activities people enjoy here,” she says. “I initially wanted to accomplish a few things: use bright colors to liven up the area (especially in contrast to winter), create some sort of interactive aspect, and design the image for all ages to enjoy.” After bringing designs and ideas to the Mayor and receiving feedback, they were able to finalize the illustration. .
Megan is excited that the mural can liven up the area. “I think it brings a new and exciting feeling to the area for locals and for tourists,” she says. “Knowing that tourism is still rising in our area, the mural is a great spot for them to take a photo or get a taste of what Gilbert is all about.” She included ATV riding, hiking, fishing, and kayaking, as well as native plants and animals. “The blue heron is the star of the show because I always see them in the Guyandotte River when I drive through Gilbert.”
The mural is designed to be interactive. “I have hidden animals all throughout like an iSpy game,” Megan says. “I have included a list of them in the bottom left corner. Some are harder than others, so I also hope I have challenged some people to think differently and look at negative space as well as positive space.” One can also pose with the blue heron as though they’re feeding it. “Overall, I think the mural evokes joy and positivity to our community.”
Megan thinks bringing art to this area can be important for a variety of reasons. “I think it is extremely important to create and observe art because it can be healing to most people,” She says. “I think art can be a helpful tool to inspire and bring positivity into our lives.” Megan also knows how hard it is to be an artist in this area, and she loves the opportunity to put a spotlight on local art. “I hope to see more art opportunities for the community such as art fairs or even collaborative community artwork. I am ecstatic that I was able to paint the mural and bring a new outlook to our area. I will be starting on a second mural in downtown Gilbert very soon!”