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Artist Creates Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Mural

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Jul 19, 2017

As part of an art initiative by Springfield, Illinois, muralist Troy Freeman created a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired mural in downtown Springfield called “PrairieSumac.” We asked Freeman more about what it was like “getting inside Wright’s head” to create the mural.

1. What inspired you to do this mural?

Troy Freeman: I used to live a block away from the Dana Thomas House and would walk by it all the time. I fell in love with the building instantly and, as an artist, was just in awe of how someone could visualize something so intricate and beautiful on a 3D level, yet still functional as a home. When I was approached a few years later to come up with a mural design for the building at 5th and Monroe, I knew I wanted to do a Frank Lloyd Wright piece. Not only to show my appreciation for his work, but also help bring more recognition (and visitors) to the Dana Thomas House which, in Springfield, is easily overshadowed by all things Lincoln.

2. What research helped you prepare for creating the mural?

TF: I was blessed in that, when I approached the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, everyone was very receptive to the idea and even supplied me with Wright’s original sketches of the sumac stained glass pieces, which are very iconic to the Dana Thomas House and a great example of his Prairie Style work. It was also a blessing that the piece scaled up and fit pretty nicely on the wall. After working through all the proper channels to get the mural approved and funded, we spent at least a full week looking over wall blueprints, creating our own digital copies of the wall and artwork, making sure we knew, to the inch, where every line started, ended and layed out on the wall before we ever began.

3. What’s the most exciting part of creating a work that was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright?

TF: Seeing it finally come to life on the wall was pretty exciting. When you look at something like this on paper, you get a sense of how impactful it will be, but finally seeing it take shape on the wall is what it is all about.

4. What impact did creating this mural have on you?

TF: My appreciation for Wright was taken to a new level. In recreating his design, I spent a lot of time trying to get in his head and figure out all the hows and whys of this design. I told a lot of people, he is either crazy or a genius or a combination of both because his use of lines in this, just makes no sense. But then, when you step back and look at the piece as a whole, it is gorgeous.

5. What has been some of the feedback to the mural?

TF: We received a lot of compliments while working on this project but I think the true measure will be the lasting impact it has on the community. I think Mike Waldinger, the executive vice president of AIA Illinois, said it best during the mural dedication last month:

“We’re so fortunate to have great works of architecture in our city. They are diverse in style, materials, and era. But they aren’t born by accident, won’t stay that way automatically and can’t happen again without commitment. We must — all of us — celebrate beauty and demand quality. Our public spaces deserve better than the quickest, cheapest proposal. A strong sense of place that everyone embraces calls for a higher standard. Mediocrity is the cruelest legacy.”

All images courtesy of Troy Freeman