/ Modified dec 19, 2022 5:06 p.m.

Sierra Vista Police Dept. unveils mural by Cochise College students

Mural was a collaboration by students and instructors in advanced art class taught by JenMarie Zeleznak

SVPD Mural Cochise College and the Sierra Vista Police Department unveiled the mural painted by students on the department’s auditorium lobby last Thursday.
Summer Hom, AZPM

It is not common to associate local art with your local police department. However, the Sierra Vista Police Department and students from Cochise College hope to change that.

In a joint project that spanned from the beginning to end of the 16-week fall semester, the Sierra Vista Police Department collaborated with Cochise College’s advanced art class to paint a mural inside the department’s auditorium.

Sierra Vista Police Chief Adam Thrasher said that the department wanted to spruce the area up a bit while giving students the opportunity to use their creativity to depict Sierra Vista and Cochise County.

“We just wanted something that represented Cochise County,” Thrasher said. “Some things that were important to us in law enforcement at the police department, particularly the Buffalo Soldier — which we have on our patch — and the Huachuca Mountains. And they did a phenomenal job coming up with a pretty big project that took a lot of effort.”

Timothy Paterson, SVPD’s evidence custodian who brought the idea to Thrasher, said that he felt that it was important to have something to welcome the public into the auditorium because “It was just kind of boring, just white walls …And so I thought, ‘you know, if we could represent us as the department and the community and every place that we serve here in Cochise County I think a lot of people would go ‘oh, wow. That is, you know, really kind of nice.’”

It was a race to the finish line according to several of the students and their art instructor JenMarie Zeleznak.

“This was my first big experience in doing a large-scale project in coordination, you know, like an entity in the community with the college,” said Zeleznak. “The students stepped up, you know, to complete this project … I don't think that they would agree that they thought they could do this … It's very polished and sophisticated and complete and it's a great example of their talents, you know, what they're capable of.”

Both SVPD and Cochise College co-funded the project. In total, the mural took 24 gallons of paint to bring to life the imagery and symbols of the high desert nestled within the Sky Islands.

The main challenge was nailing the design between the team of ten students.

“How are you going to depict Cochise County in one scene, right? It seemed impossible,” Zeleznak said. “But we ultimately ended up deciding to have the circles as our main, visual aesthetic, the ribbon kind of cutting through it. We have the Apache pottery pattern on the wall, and this wall is more relating to Cochise himself. And so, we wanted, kind of, a nod to that on this wall.”

But overall, according to Cochise College student Malachi Johnson, the mural represents “A cohesion of different cultures, styles and minds. We nailed it as a team and I think that was the best part, to be able to work together with other people and be successful.”

Thrasher and Zeleznak said that the possibility is open for future collaborations.

Zeleznak said that she hopes to continue to find opportunities for more hands-on community service projects like this one.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona