, Muskogee, OK

January 10, 2013

Artist wants students to read

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Taylor McCoy has a graphic way to get Hilldale High School and Middle School students to read.

McCoy, a 2011 Hilldale graduate, is painting a mural on a school library wall saying “READ ... It will take you places!”

The Northeastern State University sophomore began the painting in August but managed to get most of it done over the Christmas break.

“I just did it because she asked me to,” McCoy said, referring to Kirsten Harrison, the school librarian.

Harrison said McCoy always used to doodle and sketch when he was in her class.

“He was such a natural, creative artist,” Harrison said.

Harrison said she based the mural on old state postcards in which each letter had a different state tourist destination. The school paid for the paint.

“I talked with Mrs. Harrison until I found out what she liked or disliked,” McCoy said.

On the mural, each letter in READ represents a popular genre in teen fiction. The R is adventure, E is steampunk, A is fantasy, D is horror.  Steampunk is a science fiction with a Victorian type setting, kind of like H.G. Wells, Harrison said.

McCoy, who is majoring in theater and English, wove a theme within the different genres. Each letter has characters shown from behind.

“When you see it, you place yourself within the story,” he said. “I wanted to make it detailed enough so that even the third time you see it, you see something new.”

In a way, each letter can be its own little movie, he said.  Harrison and a library assistant were painted into the D as zombies.

McCoy said he never took any formal art classes until he took a drawing class at NSU.

“I’m learning a lot just doing this,” he said. “Doing shadows with paint is a lot different than shadows with pencils. With paint, you have to make your own colors. With lead, you only have one color.”

Now that classes are back in session, McCoy’s work has been drawing audiences, Harrison said.

“I’ve had students come by and just stare at the wall,” she said. “I’ve had students come by, even if they don’t know who he is.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or