Less than a decade after taking up art, Petal High School student Catherine “Cat” Hust has been chosen to take on possibly her biggest project yet, as the 11th grader recently was selected to paint the first mural in the inaugural Petal Primary School Mural Contest.
For the contest, which was announced in early June, officials sought artists who are current or former students of the Petal School District to create a mural depicting the primary school’s spirit of perseverance, grit and the will to succeed. Hust recently completed her piece, which now adorns one of the hallways of the primary school.
“I was really happy about it, especially since I went to school there whenever I was younger,” Hust said. “It kind of felt like a good bit of closure, since I’m about to graduate high school and everything.”
As part of the contest, murals must also incorporate the district’s Friendly City Focus Words, which are words – such as integrity, gratitude, ambition, dependability and motivation – that are displayed in various schools and businesses throughout Petal. Hust’s piece is headline with the words “Don’t Give Up” at the top, above a student in a cape jumping over a set of textbooks.
The bottom of the mural reads “Learning Is a Superpower.” Also featured in the piece is an English journal/textbook, a chemistry flask, a planet and the equation “2+2.”
“I wanted the design to be as diverse as possible, because I think it’s really important for kids to have enough representation in their lives and themselves.
“I feel like that’s what really motivates kids to try to their best, is when they see characters like themselves working hard. I kind of figured (the superhero angle) would draw the kids’ attention and kind of make them feel like their own little superhero, because they’re learning.”
Hust said she began taking art seriously when she was 9 or 10 years old.
“A lot of things (motivate me),” she said. “Every now and then, maybe a song or an event will inspire me, and I just feel inspired to create something.”
The first portion of the Petal Primary School Mural Contest saw approximately five entries from interested candidates.
“We’d asked them to hit this this corner hall that says ‘success and perseverance’ – those are our two character traits,” primary school principal Tessa Trimm said. “So we felt like (Hust’s) design kind of represented success and perseverance the most, so she was the one that was chosen by our selection committee.
“She spent about 19 hours working on that mural this summer, around us getting us the building ready (for the new school year), and she did a phenomenal job. It’s just amazing.”
Officials are planning for more murals in the future of the contest, with the hopes of eventually featuring seven to 10 murals throughout campus. Murals must be 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall, with a bright, colorful kid-friendly design which will be painted directly on the wall.
When that time comes to announce the next round of the contest, it will once again be open to current and former students of the school district, who will be invited to submit a full-color design via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our plan is maybe at each holiday break – because we’ve got to have time for these kids to get in here to do it – to just have more contests,” Trimm said. “Now, Cat has said that she hopes to win them all; she wants to paint all the murals, so we’ll see if she has some competition.
“She did a great job of just getting some diversity on that mural … and it was important to her that kids could see something that they could resonate with, and I think she did a really good job of that.”