Britt Ruhe, the Director of Commonwealth Murals talks about the process involved in resurrecting two of artist Nelson Stevens murals that he helped create almost five decades ago. 

See how Fresh Paint Springfield and Commonwealth Murals honored Nelson Stevens in our full feature on the artist, activist, and educator.

Read the full transcription:

Britt Rhue, Commonwealth Murals: A couple of years ago, we started talking with Nelson about recreating his murals to bring them back to Springfield. We took photographs of the murals that were taken in 1974. Countless hours, hand tracing, every single line and dot of the mural.

Then with the ten artists that were part of the Community Mural Institute, we project those files onto these five-by-five sheets of poly tab and turn the whole mural into a giant paint by numbers. So, between the two murals, we had about 94 different colors and every single little space and dot and line was numbered with the color that it corresponded with.

We brought all those sheets out into the community and over 300 people helped lay down the first coat of paint. And then, the ten artists that we work with as part of the Community Mural Institute, spent ten days meticulously painting and filling in all of that mural. And then it gets glued up, like permanent wallpaper.

So, now that it’s up, it will be up for 25-30 years without even needing to be touched up. So, we’re thrilled to have these murals of Nelson’s back permanently in Springfield.