The walls at the entrance of the Sierra Vista Police Department (SVPD) building are much like those of any other government facility. There are a lot of blank walls with few ordinary light fixtures every few feet.

This past spring, the SVPD contacted the college’s Art Department about creating a mural project. “This was able to happen because we could make it a 16-week course that is a transferable elective credit,” said JenMarie Zeleznak, art instructor. “When I visited the site to survey the opportunity, I just knew that this would be something not to pass up, and it would be a significant opportunity for both students and the college to pursue.”

For students and the college, it was a labor of love to interact with the community by serving our community. “Students gained further understanding of the course content, met genuine community needs, developed career-related skills and demonstrated responsible citizenship,” Zeleznak said.

The ART 292 Advanced Topics in Art class spent about half of the semester learning about mural processes, styles, and techniques. They researched and analyzed regional Arizona murals. The class also explored the history of Cochise County to understand historical native icons and symbolism better to develop the project’s visual language and aesthetic.

The theme of the mural reflects the spirit of Cochise County. “We focused on depicting various historical scenes significant to Cochise County,” she added. “We featured the San Pedro Riparian area, a Buffalo Soldier in Fort Huachuca, the Carr Canyon waterfall, Cochise Stronghold, the Bisbee Lavender Pit, Tombstone, and Kartchner Caverns with local flowers and animals.”  They used a blue line and the Arizona State flag colors as a ribbon graphic that flows throughout the mural, connecting each scene to create a sense of unity.

Together with Zeleznak, student artists included Shawn Bastian, Betty Burford, Jodi Cota, Gabby Gardley, Sam Hardt, Malachi Johnson, Aliya Leon, Nikko Ochoa, Kennedy Otto, and Lyla Pacheco.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sierra Vista Police Station at 911 Coronado Drive in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The event is free and open to the public.