Local artist leads students on large-scale mural projects

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Dustin Hunt is a masterful muralist who can transform a downtrodden brick wall into a vast canvas of wonderful art. Improving urban landscapes and further developing this unique skillset has been much of his life’s work, and now he’s helping to imprint his impressive abilities on young aspiring artists.

Hunt, who also co-founded the Lansing mural festival Below the Stacks, runs an art company he started in 2018 known as Muralmatics, which has overseen the completion of countless murals across several Michigan cities. He’s since expanded the Muralmatics operation to include an educational apprenticeship program that sees him collaborate with young art students on largescale murals. Hunt also partners with schools to create student-based mural projects, and he’s completed two of those projects in Lansing this summer.

“I wanted to take my art teaching background, my mathematical brain and mix it with my community service experience to create mural projects that combine all three of those things,” Hunt said. “This summer has been what my initial vision was — six-seven years ago — on full display.”

The first project Hunt completed this summer was with the Dwight Rich School of Arts, a local art-focused junior high school. Hunt described this mural as a pilot project for a program that will see the school’s eighth graders create an end-of-year mural as a capstone piece. The program would create a tradition of each eighth-grade class creating its own mural. The mural Hunt painted with the Dwight Rich students, which is at 6031 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., was completed it late-June.

“It turned out fantastic. We’d go through tutorials; the kids would get hands-on experience and they would be assigned different tasks until we completed the mural. It was the first really big student-based mural I had worked on,” Hunt said.

After the success of the mural with the Dwight Rich students, Hunt was hooked up with the organizations Building Child and Family Initiatives and Downtown Lansing Inc. for a similar project. Hunt worked with and instructed his middle-school-aged team of artists to paint the biggest mural he’s ever worked on. The mural was a two-week job and was completed this month. You can check it out downtown at 122 S. Grand Ave. 

“It was a hodge-podge of the students’ ideas. The space was very different than the south side mural. We did movement and team-building activities. We really tried to set the students up for success in completing this massive mural in a two-week time period,” Hunt said.

Hunt is looking toward a project with Marble Elementary that was started last year but put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. He plans on making his educational work with local schools the focal point of Muralmatics. 

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