Art: What is it Good For? | Painting Peoria


Professor Heather Brammeier stands before the public art her students –– Cassidy Kraft, Aaron Hagan, Hannah Weiler, Ronald Walter and Madeleine Martin created this fall on the “Hello Peoria” building in Peoria’s Warehouse District. (PHOTO BY DOUG LEUNIG)

Art What Is It Good For


Challenging times require innovative solutions and the COVID-19 pandemic forced educators across the country to find new ways to be effective teachers. Art & Design Professor Heather Brammeier at Bradley University was one of those teachers. With students enrolled in her painting class and classroom space limited, Brammeier sought a creative and safe solution. She chose a big public art project on an empty building in Peoria’s Warehouse District as their art studio for the semester. With the support of Big Picture Initiative, Brammeier obtained permission to use the city-owned building to launch a major mural project at 1316 S.W. Adams.

Brammeier is no stranger to public art. In 2019, she painted a 20’ x 40’ mural called “We Are All Made of Light” on the UFS building at 1800 S.W. Adams. Brammeier also created “Trouble the Water,” a public art installation at 1212 S.W. Adams, and in 2020, the EasterSeals Rainbow on the plaza at Peoria Riverfront Museum.

When Brammeier first approached the students about doing public art, they thought it was wonderful.

“Because students have so many classes and projects online, they were excited to work outdoors for our class meetings,” she said.

Even though some of the students decided not to continue directly with the project, five students did choose to paint murals. The others in the class were involved with giving input and are contributing to a collaborative design that is yet to come.

“I see this as a continuous project. One mural is completed, and even though a few of the other murals need some work to be completed, the artwork is already making a big impact visually. We interacted with a lot of people coming by –– people from the Cooperage apartments, people who stopped for photo shoots, and one man even came to do a photo shoot with his car in front of the student murals. All those experiences helped students understand how appreciated public art is,” Brammeier said. “Also, as students they don’t get a lot of eyes on their work unless it is on social media so for them to have their work seen by a broad audience is a great experience and something they really value.”

Brammeier and her students will continue to create public art at the site. The class has been designing artwork for the parking lot pavement. They have also been designing artwork to go around the “Hello Peoria” artwork that has been on the building since 2018.

“We want to celebrate what Joe, Nick, and Chelsie and the public have already put on that wall. The students and I will activate the whole wall up to the roof,” Brammeier said, referring to project initially done with city approval for the 2018 Big Picture Street Festival in which the public created a large abstract mural using super soakers filled with paint and then Joe Gabbert and Nick Carmack finished by painting “Hello Peoria” using a Chelsie Tamms’ design.

“Working on the building has given the students an opportunity that would not have been possible otherwise. Even though they jumped in and were ambitious from the beginning, the students were amazed in the end that they created something so large with so much visual impact,” Brammeier said with pride in her voice about the accomplishments of her students.

Brammier’s innovative teaching solution has been successful in opening the eyes of her students to new awarenesses and at the same time she opened the eyes of the community to see city surfaces come alive with art and design. Check it out at 1316 S.W. Adams. And don’t miss the works on the backside of the building along Commercial Street.

You are in for a treat!

Visit to find the locations of more than 40 murals in the Peoria community.

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