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Except for students and faculty heading for classes on the University's east campus, few passersby probably have noticed the ten-foot scaffolding tucked alongside the E.O. Bull Center for the Arts on South High St.
This week, however, weather permitting, the 85' x 15' concrete surface will be transformed into an elaborate mixed - media mural – the creation of a local, award-winning artist, University students, and other members of the campus and borough communities.
Over the past several months, ceramic artist Rhoda Kahler has overseen this enormous project and mentored dozens of art (and non-art) University students. Entitled, "Transition Cycle," the mural's design includes tiles made by the artist, pieces of glass, mirrors, thousands of tile shards, and tiny sockets and screws, reflecting the artist's preference for abstraction and textural collages.
"In the plans for renovating and expanding the building, we purposely set aside a wall where one day we might install a mural," explains John Baker, chair of the University's art department. "Baker also believed former West Chester student Kahler would be the ideal person to oversee the project.
"Given her success as an artist and the fact she’s an alum of the University, I felt Rhoda was the perfect match for this project. I knew she would work very well with the students and create a beautiful work of art."A resident of West Chester, Kahler has done a number of public and private installations, including a 12-foot hypertufa concrete tree sculpture at Yellow Springs Farm; mosaic murals in the historical Kearsley building in Philadelphia and at 10th and South Sts. with Isaiah Zager; and handmade tile murals for the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and the Hillsdale Elementary School. Kahler’s hand-sculpted tiles and sculpture also have been exhibited in dozens of select group and solo exhibitions throughout Chester County and the Philadelphia area. Recently, she was commissioned by the Delaware Art Museum to create its centennial tiles, and the tile series on which the University mural project is based are on exhibit at the 2013 Invitational Handmade Tile Exhibition in the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts in Texas.
A 1995 West Chester University graduate in fine arts, she currently is a guest artist instructor in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Form and Art program and a resident artist at the Inglis House in Philadelphia.