Shawn Drassic was four years old when he rolled into a neighborhood skatepark for the first time.
“I started to ride my bike there, and I just fell in love,” Drassic said.
When the weather is good, the now high school junior skates, scooters, or rides BMX everyday. So when his art teacher offered him the opportunity to make his mark on the nation’s largest skateboarding park, he jumped at the chance.
“I haven’t really done anything like this before.”
Drassic and 60 of his fellow students in the DMPS Focus and MAC programs, under the direction of their art teacher Laurie Shriver, have created the first augmented reality art mural in Des Moines. They installed it Monday morning with the help of Polk County Conservation on the northeast side of Lauridsen Skatepark, where it will be seen by skateboarding greats like Tony Hawk when they arrive for competitions and shows at the nation’s largest park of its kind.
“It feels pretty good to be honest,” Drassic said.
Polk County Conservation partnered with Shriver and the students to install the work. Jessica Lown, the community outreach coordinator, said they would like to see more art added to the skatepark.
“This was an incredible opportunity to partner with the school district and bring to light the incredible work of a group of talented artists and students here in our community,” Lown said. “The hard work that the students put into this project is evident when you take a look at the mural. There’s a lot of detail, a lot of color, a lot of creativity, and they took it an extra step further and integrated technology.”
Viewers of the mural will notice three QR codes in the artwork. When scanned with the camera on a smartphone, a link will direct the user to download a free app. When the phone’s camera is pointed at the artwork, the app brings the mural to life, with moving art and sound. Drassic said the mural is also making a statement.
“Our artwork is mostly about how the water is getting warmer, and the darker green mixed with the blue is showing signs of flooding and hurricanes,” he said. “It’s showing our earth slowly falling apart, and we are not doing anything about it.”
Shriver wanted to thank Home Depot and Polk County Conservation for helping this dream become a reality for her 3rd -12th grade art students.
“I’m just really proud of my students for taking this challenge on,” she said. “They didn’t have to do it, and the way they were so open to learning and applying so many art techniques, it really highlights what they know and that makes me really proud as an art teacher.”
Drassic wants to build on his success at the park — on the board and off — by getting his business license after graduation and applying his art to skateboards for other skaters to enjoy.
Q & A With Students
What made you want to get involved in this project?
“I was able to work on a theme that I liked for stop motion animation.” – Dez Layton
“I saw an opportunity to participate in a mural, so I took it.” – Landon Wheeler
“Working on the mural in Art Club was an opportunity to make new friends.” – Hales Ray
“I wanted to participate in the mural project because it would be the first augmented reality mural in Iowa.” – Demonie Smith
“I liked to be able to do the drumming for the soundtrack.” – Frankie Shears
What was the best thing about it?
“I was able to be a perfectionist with my painting.” – Hales Ray
“I was able to work with the artist Ms. Shriver.” – Landon Wheeler
“I liked adding my animation of my cat.” – Kat Bennett
“It made me have a rich imagination.” – John Ashby
“I liked the editing of the animations seen in the AR.” – Frankie Shears
What do you want people to think about when they see the mural at the park?
“I want people to think it’s beautiful!!” – Hailey Marinaro
“I want people to have an open imagination for it, to see what you want to see.” – John Ashby
“I hope to inspire other people with our art!” – Landon Wheeler
Do you plan to work in a job related to the work you did on this project?
“It gave me experience because I want to do freelance art.” – Kat Bennett
“It gives me (good back up) skills to make money in the future.” – Landon Wheeler
“Art makes me feel good to do it’ll help me find my passion.” – John Ashby
“After designing this mural, I’d like to design skateboards.” – Shawn Dressic
“I want to try video editing in the future.” – Shamari Echols
How has this project helped you grow as a person?
“The AR helps expose students to technology of the future.” – Randy Botkin, Job Coach
FOCUS students who worked on the project; Isaac Blakelock, Wesson Johann-Sage, DaShawn Morris, William Owens, Sophia Bierbaum, Robert W. Chestnut Jr., Hunter Davis, Janiya Echols, Jacob Hannu, Juan Hernandez-Sarceno, Cody Jacobs, Brock McKeever, Savannah Norwood, Gabby Salazar Forest, Justus Van Loon, Aiden Venosky, Xandir White, Ethan Anderson, John Asby, Montana Auen, Kat Bennett, Chase Collins, Aidin Cothran, Alexander Cummings, Shawn Dressic, AbreJeon Jackson, Eric Laird, Dez Layton, Daviyon Littlejohn, Hailey Marinaro, Glen Nicholson, Haley Ray, Robert Thacker, Chris Weaver, Landon Wheeler.
MAC students who worked in the project: Thomas Acklin, Cameron Broughton, Deonte Brown, Bryan Castillo, London Coke, Zech Cole, Jaylan Echols, Shamari Echols-Calaway, Savion Evans, Connor Hacker, Zachary Harless, Alex Haus, Wesley Hoffman, Jaydan Johnson, Kaleb King, Tolondo Mantor, JR Martinez, Jordan Saywahn, Stephen Sciachitano, Frankie Shears, Demonie Smith, CJ Taylor, Mason Thede, Kaeden Wilson, Markese Wilson, Jay Yates, Donovan Young.
View Photos of the Mural Installation
Watch a Video of the Mural Installation