Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Mural by Hancock artist, Afghanistan veteran, to be unveiled Sept. 2

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University Graphic Design/Illustration sophomore Dominic Fredianelli, a National Guard Veteran returned recently from Afghanistan, has brought an urban art form to Hancock -- in a very big way.

Detail of Dominic Fredianelli’s 12 x 120-foot mural, which he has painted on a south-facing exterior wall of the Finlandia University Jutila Center campus. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

His 12-foot by 100-foot painting -- a chronicle of the first 24 years of Fredianelli’s life -- will be unveiled at a reception for Fredianelli at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, outdoors near the south-facing side of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Heather Courtney, originally from Houghton and now a reporter for an NPR (National Public Radio) station in Texas, will film the painting’s unveiling.

Since 2007 Courtney has been filming a documentary that follows Fredianelli and several of his friends and fellow soldiers, all them in the 1431st Engineer Company of the National Guard, Calumet, Mich. Each of the young men graduated from Hancock High School in 2005; all were deployed to Afghanistan in 2009; and all have now returned to the Upper Peninsula .

It was a progression of smaller events that led to the creation of the large mural. In response to his desire to work on an independent project, Fredianelli’s academic advisor, Studio Arts professor Yueh-mei Cheng, set him up in a studio at the Jutila Center, where he began to create a large mixed-media oil painting on canvas.

"I designed this special project for Dominic, instead of giving him the regular class assignment, as he needed some way to freely express the emotions he accumulated when he was in Afghanistan," said Cheng. "Making art can be therapeutic. The purpose of the project is for Dominic to release emotions from the impact of war, deaths, and nightmares."

This is not Fredianelli’s first try at creating an outdoor mural, but the current project is the largest so far. On four panels, he has depicted -- in reverse order, if viewing the painting from left to right -- his personal history as a soldier and young man, as a teenager and as a small boy.

One might not expect a young man under 30 to have experienced enough to fill 1,200 square feet, but Fredianelli is an exception.

Dominic Fredianelli works on his 12 x 120-foot mural, which he has painted on a south-facing exterior wall of the Finlandia University Jutila Center campus.

The four-panel mural includes a 12-foot self-portrait of Fredianelli the soldier, a 10-foot image of an Afghani civilian, and two dominant words: Soldier and Change. Other images include a river that he describes as one of the most beautiful places he encountered in Afghanistan, the Twin Towers, a mosque, a church and the Quincy Mine Hoist.

Fredianelli says that some of the meanings the painting may convey to the viewer are deliberate on his part, while others "just happened" as part of the creative sketching and painting process.

Fredianelli began pursuing a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) at Finlandia in fall 2007. After two semesters of study, his National Guard Unit was deployed. He returned to the U.S. in 2009 and then completed an automotive technician certificate in Wyoming. After a few months in Marquette, Mich., he returned to his home town and resumed his BFA studies at Finlandia.

Fredianelli, along with 30 additional U.S. armed services veterans, is attending Finlandia with the assistance of the GI Bill and other veterans’ programs. He is the son of Sharon and Brian Fredianelli of Hancock.

For additional information, please contact Lisa Broemer at 487-7375, or e-mail lisa.broemer@finlandia.edu.

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