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UNT artist illuminates a Denton building with a new mural

UNT artist illuminates a Denton building with a new mural

UNT artist illuminates a Denton building with a new mural
February 25
10:00 2021

The UNT CoLab has a new floral mural plastered on its front window, designed by studio art senior McKenzie Fitzhenry. While interning at the CoLab, Fitzhenry was asked to make the environment more inviting and cozy, and she has always wanted to paint a mural, so she decided to make the CoLab window her first canvas.

After creating several designs on an iPad, the flowering magnolia branches with a bee sketch stood out to Fitzhenry the most. Both windows took about three hours to complete while using a white acrylic paint marker.

Fitzhenry says she has learned to stay focused while completing a project in pubic to help release any pressure.

“I used to be self-conscious about people watching me in the process of art, but I kind of focused on the drawing aspect of it,” Fitzhenry said. “I’ve always loved art so it’s easy to get lost in it.”

Director of UNT CoLab Kristen Kendrick Bigley suggested Fitzhenry to take on the project.

“I really wanted to capitalize on her artistic contribution in this space, and that has been so wonderful to have someone with a keen sense of design [and who is] really capable drafting skills to come in and help us with social media post creations and other creative design aspects of the space,”  Kendrick Bigley said. “Once I saw her skill level and what she brought to each design that she worked on, I knew right away that she would be able to do some wonderful designs for our windows.”

Studio art senior Sanah Brownbowers, a classmate of Fitzhenry, said the floral mural reminded her of an art piece Fitzhenry did called “Bloom.”

“She is a really wonderful artist,” Brownbowers said. “I love that mural, and I’m a big fan of abstract floral so I think she did a great job.”

Fitzhenry has had a deep connection with art that started when she was young.  She’s kept several photos of her as a child with a kids’ easel and art station for memory’s sake.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always done art and something creative,” Fitzhenry said. “My parents have a printing company and I used to go hang out there. I’d go through the trash and find paper scraps and all these things, and [my parents] would be like, ‘What is she making?’ I’ve always kind of had that creative drive and I’ve been mainly self-taught.”

Fitzhenry’s work has a variety of different vivid figurative drawings that are influenced by the hardships of life and perseverance.

“In my art, I kind of explore themes of loss and resilience just from personal struggles and things, but I try to portray the beauty scene in stuff within my art,” Fitzhenry said. “It’s helped me reprocess my own traumas and see them in a new light. It’s very therapeutic to me — I’ve always turned to art.”

Fitzhenry hopes her drawings move people in a peaceful way.

“I really want my work to resonate with everyone, and for them to see that there [is] this duality presence in life — that with everything bad, there is a silver lining, and just kind of see the beauty in the struggles of life,” Fitzhenry said.

Traditional artists, such as Salvador Dali and  Vincent van Gogh, along with contemporary artists, like Alex Kanevsky and Jenny Saville, are major influences in Fitzhenry’s artwork. She has different interests in what she will do with her art, but she hopes to make an impact to a wider audience.

“Ideally, I would love to be a professional studio artist and live off of my work, but I know that’s not a very linear path, so I do plan on trying to get my stuff out there more, maybe work with some galleries and do markets,” Fitzhenry said. “I’ve also been interested in looking into teaching, so I might get my certification for K through 12.”

As 2021 is her last year at UNT, she says she is extremely grateful for the growth and support she has gained.

“I want to leave an impression,” Fitzhenry said. “I feel like I’ve [done] some really good networking with my professors and fellow students, and I really hope to maintain those relationships and continue to build my place in this community until I have to leave.”

The mural will remain on the window temporarily. Interested individuals can find the mural at the UNT CoLab, located at 207 N. Elm St.

Fitzhenry’s artwork can be viewed on Instagram @art.mckfitz and her website.

Courtesy McKenzie Fitzhenry

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Daijah Peterson

Daijah Peterson

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