Paint and Pizza Party delivers Huskie Pride

Weeks before the governor issued a shelter-in-place order and long before Huskies took to online learning, an exciting event was held in honor of NIU’s 125th anniversary year.

On Tuesday, March 3, more than 100 students gathered to share a meal and their artistic talents during the Paint and Pizza Party sponsored by Stacey and Dennis Barsema. Under the direction of Sycamore-based artist Chelsea McGhee, Huskies created a tile mural at the Holmes Student Center that’s a reflection of the community that’s proud to call NIU home. 

Tiled-mural in the Holmes Student Center that was created by students as part of “Paint and Pizza,” a 125th Anniversary Celebration event.

“We wanted to bring students together to create something that would celebrate our 125th anniversary,” said committee member Stacey Barsema. “Paint and pizza seemed like a great way to do that.”

Committee member Meg Junk, chief of staff to the Dean of Students, shared the sentiment.

“This was a really awesome opportunity to put some colorful visuals behind our 125th anniversary in a place that hundreds of people will see every day,” Junk said. “It was also a fun event that would really engage students in the celebration.”

Barsema said McGhee was the event’s creative mastermind, working behind-the-scenes to create the pieces for students to paint. Due to logistics, participation was capped at a total of 60 student painters, and another 40 students stopped in to share pizza and dessert.

“We thought students would grab and go, but the awesome piece of this is that they didn’t want to leave,” Barsema said. “They were having so much fun, they stayed and painted the whole time. It was really lovely to see.”

The mural’s message – one of Huskie Pride – is a testament to the campus community.

“It is amazing to see the detail that went into each piece and how careful each student was,” Barsema said. “They are all different and beautiful; it was an amazing group effort.”

The mural is currently on display in the Holmes Student Center across from Starbucks.

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