MCC art students add the finishing touches to a new exam room

SLAYTON -- In a small room in the Murray County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) Clinic, several people stand with their noses to the wall and their attention focused straight ahead.

SLAYTON -- In a small room in the Murray County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) Clinic, several people stand with their noses to the wall and their attention focused straight ahead.

No, they aren't being punished; they are painting murals on the wall in the pediatric exam room - a fire station, a Dalmatian with a fire hose and a little boy sliding down a fire pole - all to complement the fire truck exam table the hospital had installed in its newly constructed clinic area.

MCMH Clinic Manager Sue Jensen brainstormed with other clinic staff about how to make the pediatric room more inviting.

"We wanted some community involvement," she said, "so we talked about who would be willing to come in and do a mural."

The answer they came up with? The art class and instructor from Murray County Central, of course.


"(The instructor) called us back almost immediately," Jensen said. "He said the kids would love to do it."

Chad Reker, who has been the art instructor at MCC for three years, was more than happy to take on the mural project. He and several clinic employees went through some images they felt would work on the wall, then Reker brought them back to the art room at the school and made a few changes to the chosen image.

"I knew what I wanted the minute I walked in the room," Reker said. "I think they were surprised I found the stuff so quickly."

Reker asked for volunteers for the after-school project. Many of the students that wanted to be involved could not because of extracurricular activities, but a small group of students found the time to head to the clinic to paint.

Reker spent two days putting the outlines of the murals on the walls. He used the fire station picture from a coloring book but stretched it out on the computer and added a sign on the front of the station that says, "Murray County Fire Department." He found the drawing of the Dalmatian, but created the design of the boy sliding down the pole himself.

Once he got the outlines on the wall, he brought in his painting crew and they got to work.

"Buddy kind of claimed the dog as his," Reker said, pointing out one student who worked diligently at the Dalmatian painting.

"I thought it would be fun," ninth-grader Buddy Diekmann said when asked why he got involved with the project. "I've never done anything like this before."


Sophomore Renae Conway said the more she paints the more it relaxes her.

"I just have fun painting and drawing," she said. "And some of it is knowing I helped in here. I'll be able to see it later and know I did that."

"Yeah, that is part of it," ninth-grader Dan Carlson agreed. "But it just sounded fun. I like art."

While Carlson helped Reker with the fire station, Conway worked on the little boy mural.

"This was my favorite out of all of them," she admitted.

Reker set the painting of the station up so that it looks as though the fire truck exam table is coming out of the open door of the station. He said the students did have some input as to what was going on the walls.

Before he outlined the pictures on the wall, Reker had to figure out which colors to use for each part of the murals, so he pulled out some art supplies and colored the pictures on paper. He used acrylic paint on the wall and admitted he might have to use a second coat of temper paint to make the colors solid. After the murals are painted, he and his helpers will have to re-outline the drawings to make them crisp and clean.

"They plan on this being here as long as the hospital is here," he said. "My job is to make sure it is perfect."


Reker said he anticipated the project to take about three weeks at the most.

"Redoing that outline is going to take a while," he said. "Hopefully we'll be done by the end of the first week of April."

As teacher and students worked side by side, they discussed art - techniques, past projects and future projects they would like to try.

When the project is finished, the students that participated will sign their names on the wall.

"Buddy has been practicing his signature for a week," Reker teased.

Once the wall is complete, the exam room will be ready for the youngest of the clinic patients, who hopefully will be so fascinated by the fire truck exam table, the silly Dalmatian trying to hold a fire hose and the little boy hanging on a fire pole that they won't be nervous about visiting the doctor. Some of the older pediatric patients will probably take the time to read the signatures on the wall and discover they know one or more of the people that painted the colorful, playful murals.

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