Creating My Parson’s Challenge – The Integrity Mural


Max Fink, Contributor '23

The artistic theme of my Parson’s Challenge is inspirational graffiti letters complimented by an 80’s hip hop style. It all started with a rusty old sign I found in a blighted building. I was working on a concept and an old alarm system sign was the perfect canvas-painted steel; rusted and weathered to perfection. Since the property was in the process of being demolished, I figured the sign would be much better off in my hands than the hands of the scrappers.

For some time, I had been contemplating a small-scale piece of the statement “be free.” This sign was the missing element to my concept. I like the idea of painting inspiring messages in graffiti style to give the viewer something to take away from my art other than one of my aliases. In addition to the text, I added the breaking metal effect to further drive home the statement of freedom. The letters are breaking out of the 2d-dimension in which they seem to be contained. The character, sporting big, all-seeing goggles, his arm and finger extended outside the fracture demonstrate a disregard for barriers and embracing the potential for absolute creative freedom.

Since my freshmen year at Cincinnati Country Day, my eye had been on a particular blank concrete wall located outside the art room doors. Despite my yearly requests, my art teacher, Ms. Brand, saved it for me until I was a senior and had honed the skills to paint it “properly”. When it came time to create a piece for the Parsons Challenge and I inquired about using the wall of my dreams, she finally gave the OK…under the condition that I approved my design with the head of school. After a brainstorm with her about a word that would not only inspire the viewer, but also convey a sense of school spirit, I landed on the word “integrity”- one of the five core virtues of CCDS. In addition to having a fun letter composition that allows for many connections, integrity is the core virtue I consider to be of the utmost importance in both art and life.

The next steps in my process were drawing pen and paper “integrity” sketches and to measure the wall using my arms as the units. After laying down the sketch of the letters, I had a few feet of extra space. To fill it, I freestyled a character similar to the other 80’s pop art styles I’ve been experimenting with. I stuck to a predominantly blue color scheme to show school spirit and my appreciation to Cincinnati Country Day for letting me paint my Parsons Challenge on their wall.

I like to think that the piece not only inspires the audience in its finished state, but also during its creation. I always prefer to paint alone or with one of my good buddies, but this time I made a conscious decision to paint the wall during school hours to give students, mainly middle schoolers, a chance to observe the expression of a largely denounced artform. Interestingly, writing this article made me realize my creative process incorporated artistic integrity in every stage – design, revision, approval, and execution.