Art: What is it Good For? | Painting Peoria

Professor Heather Brammeier stands in front of the public art of her students – Cassidy Kraft, Aaron Hagan, Hannah Weiler, Ronald Walter and Madeleine Martin created “Hello Peoria” on the building in the Waroria District of Peoria this fall. (PHOTO BY DOUG LEUNIG)

Art What is it good for?


Challenging times call for innovative solutions and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing educators across the country to find new ways to be effective teachers. Bradley University art and design professor Heather Brammeier was one of those teachers. Brammeier was looking for a creative and safe solution, as the students were enrolled in their painting class and the classrooms were limited. She chose a large public art project in an empty building in Peoria’s Warehouse District as her art studio for the semester. With support from the Big Picture Initiative, Brammeier was given permission to use the municipal building to start a large mural project at 1316 SW Adams.

Brammeier is no stranger to public art. In 2019 she painted a 20 x 40 inch mural entitled “We are all made of light” on the UFS building at 1800 SW Adams. Brammeier also created Trouble the Water, a public art installation at 1212 SW Adams, and the 2020 EasterSeals Rainbow in the square at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

When Brammeier first approached the students to do art in public spaces, they thought it was wonderful.

“Because the students have so many classes and projects online, they were thrilled to work outdoors for our class reunions,” she said.

Although some of the students decided not to continue the project right away, five students decided to paint murals. The others in the class were involved in the input and contribute to a collaborative design that is still pending.

“I see this as an ongoing project. One mural is complete, and although some of the other murals have yet to be worked on, the artwork is already making a great visual impression. We interacted with a lot of people who walked by – people from the Cooperage apartments, people stopping for photoshoots, and a man even came to do a photoshoot in his car in front of the student murals. All of these experiences helped the students understand how valued art is in public spaces, ”said Brammeier. “As a student, you also don’t get a lot of eyes on your work unless it’s on social media, so it’s a great experience and something you really appreciate when you show your work to a large audience.”

Brammeier and her students will continue to create public art on the site. The class designed works of art for the parking lot. They also designed artwork to bypass the Hello Peoria artwork that has been on the building since 2018.

“We want to celebrate what Joe, Nick, Chelsie and the public have already posted on this wall. The students and I will activate the entire wall up to the roof, ”said Brammeier, referring to a project that was originally carried out with the city’s approval for the Big Picture Street Festival 2018. Joe Gabbert and Nick Carmack then painted“ Hello Peoria ” the design by Chelsie Tamms.

“Working on the building gave the students an opportunity that would otherwise not have been possible. Although they jumped in from the start and were ambitious, in the end the students were amazed that they had created something so big with so much visual impact, ”said Brammeier with pride in her voice about the achievements of her students.

Brammier’s innovative teaching solution has managed to open her students’ eyes to new knowledge, while at the same time opening the eyes of the community to see how city surfaces come to life with art and design. Check it out at 1316 SW Adams. Don’t miss the work on the back of the building along Commercial Street.

You will be spoiled!

Visit to find the locations of more than 40 murals in the Peoria community.

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