Truhn and Unterhalter in front of Turchin Center

Katie Truhn (left) and Jessie Unterhalter in front of the Turchin Center.

BOONE — A stunning art installation has just been completed on the grand staircase outside the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

Situated on King Street, the Turchin Center lies at the crossroads of Appalachian State University and downtown Boone, with the staircase serving as a pedestrian connector between the two. Several years ago the staff and advisory board at the Turchin Center recognized the imposing concrete staircase as a “blank canvas” with potential to be transformed into something special.

After considering a variety of artists, the dynamic duo of Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn were commissioned to transform the stairs into what has become an eye-popping mural.

The concept for the mural is a nod to textiles, with the design being a vibrant and geometric painted stair runner that spans from the top of the 36-step grand staircase and flows to the bottom of the steps ending with fringed edges often found on a rug. Position at the bottom of the stairs looking up, one can imagine the warp of a weaving loom projected as multi-colored lines run up the entirety of the steps.

Though the design is abstract, it is hard not to imagine that the intersecting angles mimic mountains and a circle conjures up thoughts of the rising sun. Because the stairs are a three-dimensional form, the design takes on a different look when standing at the top of the stairs looking down. The large landings of the stairs serve as focal points for some of Unterhalter and Truhn’s trademark curving shapes.

Upon completion of the mural, Unterhalter and Truhn spoke about their mission which is a simple desire to bring playfulness to public spaces and enhance people’s lives through art.

There is no doubt that the stair mural has taken on vibrant personality. The only thing that’s missing is a name, which the Turchin Center is inviting the community’s input on via an online forum at https://bit.ly/3hofYR3. Entries will be accepted until Sept. 30.

To view more art by Truhn and Unterhalter, check out @jessieandkatey on Instagram.

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