Art covered bus takes riders on a journey through history

Photo of Van Go student artists freaking out

Van Go artists win a prize for their mobile
mural during the Art Tougeau Parade.

There is a new bus in town that will take passengers back in time. Not literally, of course. It’s not a time-travel machine, but rather a history lesson on wheels. The bus is covered on all four sides with a graphic mural depicting Lawrence history. The name of the mural is “Resilience: A Moving Kansas Tribute.”

A collaboration between the Lawrence Transit System and Van Go, the bus will be used for regular public transportation service as well as educational outreach events. The bus had its debut appearance during the Art Tougeau Parade on Saturday, May 31.

“We are pleased to partner with Van Go to bring this original work of art to the public,” said Robert Nugent, transit administrator. “The mural is not only beautiful to look at but also deeply meaningful for the people of Lawrence, which is a testament to the thoughtfulness of the artists who worked on this project.”

Twenty student artists in Van Go’s spring JAMS program worked to envision and create the artwork that adorns the bus. Each of the four sides of the vehicle represents one of the elements—earth, wind, water, and fire. The artwork was painted on canvas, photographed, and then printed on vinyl and applied to the bus.

“Our first digital mural has been an amazing experience for our kids, and they can't wait to see their artwork moving around the city,” said Lynne Green, Van Go executive director. “That public recognition is what Van Go is all about.”

While planning the concepts for the artwork, students met with historians and conducted research about the city’s turbulent history. The students drew inspiration from regional history, time travel, transportation, historical figures, and forces of nature.

Local experts who assisted in the background research were Kerry Altenbernd, historian and reinactor; Marla Jackson, art quilt artist and teacher; Steve Nowak from Watkins Museum; and Julie McPike from Freedom’s Frontier.

For more information about the artwork, visit the Van Go website.