By Emily Delgado
With the stroke of her paintbrush, Ali Hval (19MFA) is making an impact on students at Iowa and beyond through public art.
Hval studied painting and drawing as a graduate student in the University of Iowa School and Art and Art History. She currently works as a visiting assistant professor in the department. During her time as a student, she was exposed to many different art mediums, but was drawn to mural making.
“Now, mural painting is my primary career—something I had never considered before attending the University of Iowa,” Hval said.
As a student at Iowa, Hval collaborated with the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement where she worked to install several large murals across the state. That practical experience, in addition to her coursework, prepared Hval for the work she does now: teaching students how to create public art and murals.
Most recently, she worked with students in nearby Cedar Rapids at Coe College and Mount Mercy University, helping them create a mural depicting life in the city. She says public and student involvement is paramount in mural making.
“When there are others, beyond an artist, heavily involved in a public art project, there is another level of depth brought to it [the artwork],” she says. “Students helped generate design ideas as well as flesh out the physical project.”
The mural showcases imagery that resonates with the Cedar Rapids community — including landmarks from the two campuses and the city, like an old Dairy Queen, the City of Five Seasons tree, and a vintage National Oats advertisement.
In addition to her work with students in Cedar Rapids, Hval is also teaching current Hawkeyes. She says her time at Iowa has prepared her for teaching at her alma mater, where she says she enjoyed many campus spaces and resources that helped foster her development as an artist. As a student of the UI’s School of Art and Art History she also had access to many courses that taught her techniques across different mediums, including graphic design, printmaking, and photography — all equipping her with the tools she needs to teach and produce art professionally.
Hval hopes to pass her expertise to students at Iowa and beyond. Next fall, she will visit South Dakota State University as its Stuart Artist-in-Residence. In that role, she will collaborate with faculty and students and create an exhibition.
The UI’s School of Art and Art History was established in 1936 and is divided in two divisions — art history and studio art. The school is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and encourages students to combine their degree in art with other programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.