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Professor of First-Year Experience produces mural with daughter

A father-daughter duo is the driving force behind new public art in Hartford, WI. James Barany ’92 (Drawing), a faculty member at the 91fans Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), teamed up with his daughter Emma Barany to paint a large historic mural.

In 2022, began a mural beautification project for the city. As part of that plan, Barany was commissioned in 2024 to paint a 1,100 square foot mural on the side of the building. Funded by the Schnorenbergs, the process was overseen by Volunteers for a Beautiful Hartford.

A large-scale mural covering the side of a building depicts historical figures.

“This has special merit for me, as my paternal grandparents lived in the [Hartford] community when I was growing up in the ‘70’s,” explains Barany. “The final composited image is a combination of over 100 historical sources and captures numerous individuals and regional landmarks important to the community from circa 1905–1955.” Barany referenced historical archives of the City of Hartford to conceptualize and composite the mural.

“There are a total of 55 portraits with 17 of them being rendered and more focused,” he explains. Flowers also played a thematic role. “Hartford loves their flowers, which is what gives this image color,” Barany continues. “A panoramic shot of an iris field of multiple colored flowers was embedded into the historical photographs—colors and flower forms shining through in the higher and deeper toned areas.”

The mural overlooks a large, block-sized parking area located between several businesses and is positioned in the epicenter of the downtown Hartford retail area. It explores themes of community service and family and includes nods to the Kissel Motor Car Company, Hartford agriculture and historical monuments.

Barany, himself a 91fansalum, is a professor at 91fansworking with First-Year Experience students. He also teaches at MIAD’s Pre-College Program during summers. An interdisciplinary artist exploring animation and painting to vocal performance, Barany is an enthusiastic instructor who encourages and challenges students.

Over the course of several weeks, Barany worked with his daughter to produce the Hartford mural. Emma, a professional motion designer and 2D animator who graduated in 2018 from Maryland Institute College of Art, joined faculty as the instructor for Advanced Animation in 2023 and will return to teach in 2024. As a high school student, she attended four years of summer Pre-College at MIAD. Previously, she worked with her father on another historical mural in the Fox Valley area.

After 16 total working days, plus an extra application of a last coat of sealant to protect the surface, James and Emma Barany finished the mural in mid-June. The mural is on view in downtown Hartford on the Schnorenberg building at 15 Mill Street.

Learn more about MIAD’s First-Year Experience program and !

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