Honors students plan to bring mural to A.J.’s Way


The Honors Engaged Learning Project (HELP) is a Gannon University group that was officially named an organization before the start of the current semester.
The group was originally formed in the fall of 2014 by a group of honors students who were interested in having a mural painted on A.J.’s Way.
The mural will be located on the parking garage wall that is to the left when coming from the Gannon Arch on Seventh Street.
The soon-to-be project site currently features a large banner that was a gift from the senior class of 2009.
The banner is heavily faded and will be moved indoors to prevent further weathering.
Heading the program and planning of the mural is Carol Hayes, an instructor in the English department.
Along her side are 24 honors students who are aiding in the research of images for the mural.
There are also 24 organizations branching from Gannon that reach out to the Erie community that will be featured in the mural.
Last semester Hayes’ students interviewed the founders or coordinators of the organizations to make sure the mural accurately displayed their individual missions.
Some of these organizations include Art Club, Gannon Goodwill Garden, Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability (Erie-GAINS), the Shuster Theater and The Gannon Knight.
One image that will be showcased in particular is Archbishop John Mark Gannon, founder of Gannon College.
Gannon began the program in 1925 to help families in need send their young men to college.
In the mural, he will most likely be depicted in a portrait or through his iconic newspaper delivery boys that he once helped get degrees from Gannon College.
The students who proposed this project hope that the images will instill a sense of optimism and togetherness in the Gannon and Erie communities.
“I really hope that the students enjoy and appreciate all the work we’ve put into planning the mural.” said freshman physician assistant major Abby Printz.
Ehren Knapp is the student-chosen artist who will paint the mural.
Knapp began mural painting at age 14 on his bedroom walls, and he remembers that his second one was what got him really hooked to painting on a larger scale.
Knapp currently resides in Erie, and has studied in Laguna Beach, Calif., and Florence, Italy, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in art at Edinboro University.
Mural painting is definitely Knapp’s passion and he cannot wait to share his talents with the Gannon community.
“The opportunity is a really different experience and it will be a joy to be part of,” Knapp said.
Some of his other artworks can be found in the Erie International Airport, the Erie Dance Theater, Morroco Motors and many other locations in Erie and North East.
The mural is still in its beginning design stages and most likely will not be finished until the fall of 2016.
So far Knapp has proposed six original sketches to the HELP team, which are currently being reviewed.
The final decision of the mural will be up to President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., and current Archbishop of Erie, the Rev. Lawrence T. Persico.
To learn more about Knapp and his work, visit ehrenknapp.com.
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