The campus community at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Monday may have noticed something unexpected when traversing campus over the last few weeks: a three-dimensional crosswalk.
Or, what appears to be a three-dimensional crosswalk. Located at N. 50th Street at an intersection beside the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center and Business and Industrial Institute, it was UAFS student Nate Myers’ paintbrush that gave the 3D impression. The Fort Smith native painted the artwork over the weekend, the culmination of a collaborative project between UAFS, 64/6 Downtown, and the City of Fort Smith.
The idea was conceived by 64/6 Downtown – the nonprofit organization who coordinates The Unexpected arts festival in downtown Fort Smith each year – and presented to the city as an opportunity to use artwork to make crosswalks more noticeable to drivers in the hopes of improving pedestrian safety.
But while restrictions kept them from altering streets in the city, they saw the perfect opportunity to enhance a crosswalk at a location with plenty of foot traffic: the UAFS campus.
“It really started with this idea that we have with The Unexpected about creating art that is disruptive,” said John McIntosh, executive director of 64/6 Downtown. “And having it on a college campus makes it become not just disruptive, but fun for the students as well.”
McIntosh met with Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, and other UAFS representatives. Beran recommended locations on campus for them to paint, and the City of Fort Smith donated paint in support of the project.
“In one of the meetings, we started talking about executing this and who would do it,” McIntosh said. “I knew Nate Myers was capable of doing this because of his experience with The Unexpected. He’s been a great volunteer and great artist on those projects.”
Myers has worked on six different murals, including the Alphonso Trent mural painted by UAFS students as part of The Unexpected, and found himself well-prepared for the challenge of painting a crosswalk.
But even with his extensive experience, the painter faced challenges in the project.
“The process required specific angles and measurements which took several hours to figure – and once on site, I realized slight modifications would actually help the illusion,” Myers said. “The crosswalk was existing, but the paint was fading, so I repainted over what was already there and tried to patch what I could.”
Myers will paint several more three-dimensional crosswalks in the coming weeks and considers this one a test run.
“I wanted to play it safe,” he said. “I feel more confident in the process now and hopefully have some even more intriguing designs.”