An area in Missouri Southern State University’s Webster Hall formerly used as storage space is getting a colorful makeover.

Kyle McKenzie, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Design Administration, and participants in Missouri Southern’s Leadership Academy are creating a floor-to-ceiling mural on two walls adjacent to the main staircase. Filled with green and yellow vegetation, the area will become a student-centered gathering place.

Members of the Leadership Academy – a program designed to inspire, develop and connect leaders across campus – have picked up paint brushes to bring McKenzie’s wall sketches to vibrant life.

“As part of the program, we were tasked with completing a service project for the university,” said Will Mountz, director of the Adult Degree Completion program and a member of the 2021-22 Leadership Academy cohort. “There were several great ideas, but the one we centered on was fixing up some space for students. We all felt Webster Hall could use a little more love.”

The area near the staircase in Webster had previously been used to store furniture. New furniture for student use has been donated for the project.

“As planning went on, they contacted me about creating a mural in the space,” said McKenzie. “The idea was to create a floor-to-ceiling mural filled with vegetation to make it feel like an enclosed, natural space.”

As she worked to fill in some of the leafy greens near the bottom of one wall on a recent afternoon, Teacher Education Coordinator Jenifer Vieselmeyer said the collaborative nature of the Leadership Academy program made for a positive experience.

“It was so nice to get together with faculty and staff from across campus,” she said. “We all have leadership roles in some aspect, and it was awesome to learn different leadership styles.”

Vieselmeyer said painting was a bit outside of her wheelhouse, but McKenzie’s direction was extremely helpful.

“I’m more of a crafty person than an artsy person,” she said. “Kyle had to teach me to paint because this is not my forte. But he’s set it up to be easy for us and made me look like a Picasso.”