HUDSON, N.Y. (NEWS10)–Louise Smith saw that blank wall nearly every day and wondered why no one had used it for an art space. Smith reached out to her friend Bridget Smith, a literacy specialist in the Hudson City School District, with an idea for an art project, using the wall. The Bliss Tower Mural Project was born.

An idea sprang up for Artist Louise Smith after seeing this blank wall.

Louise Smith’s idea was to explore the concept of self through the use of portraiture. The two talked over the project and decided to involve Bridget Smith’s students in her extended learning time program.

The goal is to cover the wall with portraits over the years as the project moves forward.

The kids began by doing quick sketches of self-portraits to get them looking closely at their physical features, Bridget Smith says. They also looked at the concept of beauty, identity, race, and culture.

Louise Smith and Bridget Smith work on putting up several self-portraits for the Bliss Tower Mural Project Monday.

The project was speeding along until everything shut down, and the kids went home from school due to the coronavirus pandemic. That didn’t stop the Bliss Tower Mural Project. Every week Lousie and Bridget would get together with the 4th and 5th graders and work online.

At the end of the school year, Louise Smith traveled around the city of Hudson, collecting the artwork from the students involved with the Bliss Tower Mural Project.

In May, Louise Smith received a grant from the Hudson Emergency Fund, that grant allowed them to purchase the supplies needed to finish this year’s project. In total, eight students were able to complete their work.

The mural is made up of self-portraits that are glued to the wall using a technique called wheat pasting.

Monday, the installation began, using an old technique called wheat pasting. Artist Louise Smith says that the mural should last for years but that this won’t be the last self-portrait project. Both she and Bridget Smith are going to continue the Bliss Tower Mural Project with next year’s students.