New Sharpsville Mural Created by Indiana Artist Koda Witsken
Writer / Natalie Platt
The mural Koda Witsken is most proud of is the one that isn’t painted yet.
“Always, it’s the next one,” says Witsken, an Indiana-based muralist whose clients include an impressive roundup of the state’s who’s-who list.
Witsken studied art at Purdue University and Duke University before navigating a career in corporate sales in the travel industry. Though she still loves travel and tourism, Witsken found her true calling rooted in the arts and opened her own mural business, now known as Hue Murals. The business completes mural and art installation projects nationally, with projects in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, New York, California and more.
“My first mural, believe it or not, was a three-story mural that I completed for an energy company in Vincennes, Indiana, when I was 20 years old,” Witsken says. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was in college, driving to Vincennes from Purdue on the weekends, learning how to paint, how to use a lift, what paint to use.”
Witsken says her style has completely changed since that project 10 years ago, and she typically uses spray paint for most of her work, instead of hand painting. “My style has gotten more dynamic and expressive as my career options have grown into projects that allow for more creative freedom and thought leadership,” she says.
Locally, Witsken just finished a mural installation in Sharpsville.
“The Sharpsville town council, along with community partners, selected me from a list of artists provided by the Arts Federation because they liked my bright color palette and vibrant, positive artistic style,” she says.
Being selected as the artist is just the beginning of the design process, which requires multiple strategy sessions and meetings to help in understanding the community.
“I met with those stakeholders before designing the mural to learn from them – what did Sharpsville want the mural to be? How can we best represent the town and enrich the arts landscape of Sharpsville? What local symbols, motifs, colors or stories would locals want to incorporate?” Witsken says.
Witsken drew inspiration and ideas from the town members’ feedback and began to see their vision come to life.
“From this meeting, it was clear that Sharpsville stakeholders wanted a bright, playful mural that invited newcomers and residents alike to visit the community park, and that celebrated the rural culture of the town,” she says.
Witsken’s favorite part of the community feedback is the story of Bessie Bopdrop, the famed local cow that roamed the park for community fundraisers and is now the center of the Sharpsville mural. There are also nods to local farming, produce, pollinators and more.
“We ultimately went through a few variations of the design, incorporating community feedback, before the final design was fully approved by the town council, the State of Indiana via Visit Indiana as they were a main funder, the Arts Federation and other groups,” Witsken says.
Other Indiana-based projects include murals or installations for the Pacers, Colts, NCAA, Eli Lilly, Bottleworks District, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Harley-Davidson, among others.
“My projects have increasingly focused on community engagement, which I prize immensely,” Witsken says.