The university community is invited to collaboratively paint a mural from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 1 in the greenspace by the Nebraska Union.
Commissioned by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, the mural will be the first venture for a new startup called The PALETTE Project, spearheaded by founder, CEO and senior management major Erika Casarin.
Designed like a big paint-by-number activity, the mural allows participants to leave their mark at the university. Music and snacks are also included, and students will receive T-shirts while supplies last.
“Not only does the experience break barriers and bring individuals together, but The PALETTE Project also beautifies the communities where we reside,” said Casarin, a native of Lincoln. “The mission of PALETTE is to deepen partnerships between nonprofits, for-profits and the greater community through collaborative mural painting. I wanted to create an experience for our university students, allowing them to connect in a meaningful way, and this event provides a place for them to mingle and make great memories while also creating unique art.”
The finished mural will be installed in the Center for Entrepreneurship, room 315 in Howard L. Hawks Hall, in mid-September.
“When I first came up with the idea for PALETTE, I had no idea where to start, so I scheduled a consultation appointment with the Center for Entrepreneurship,” Casarin said. “I met with staff who took the time to listen to my idea and asked me questions. We found the holes in the model and strategized on how to compensate for them. They guided me through the challenges and successes of the early business stages.”
Casarin competed in the center’s New Venture Competition with her business plan and talked to members of Startups UNL, a student-run organization that operates out of the center. Then she pitched the idea for PALETTE’s first project to Kathy Farrell, the James Jr. and Susan Stuart Dean of the college, and Sam Nelson, the center’s director and associate professor of practice in management.
“Her presentation was well-crafted and delivered about a joint project for the C4E,” Nelson said. “She communicated how this mural was more than just a piece of art — it was a way for us to share the story of entrepreneurship at Nebraska and its endless possibilities. Dean Farrell and I thought it seemed only fitting that the first student-designed venture for The PALETTE Project would be installed in the Center for Entrepreneurship.”
Casarin reached out to Javier Rivera, a senior art major from Omaha, to build the large canvases to paint at the event. She also asked high school friend Avry Victor, a junior art major from Lincoln, to create the graphic design for the mural, which was later named “Lift Off.”
“The mural design exhibits six space people assembling a rocket mid-flight,” Casarin said. “These six individuals represent the core values of Startups UNL, the fundamental values of our community that influence how we interact with one another. Through these principles, we build stronger bonds and achieve individual and group success. Entrepreneurship is fast-paced and invigorating — thus the inclusion of the rocket, which helps to convey a sky’s-the-limit mentality. It is imperative to note that each individual has a role in completing the rocket, highlighting the importance of collaboration and teamwork.”
In addition, Casarin partnered with another high school friend who worked as a videographer at Digital Sky. Through that connection, she worked with the company’s creative team to capture video and photos at future mural events and to do social media surrounding the project and event. The Digital Sky team includes three Nebraska alumni: Aaron Hahn, ’14, COO and strategic director; Mackenzie White, ’19, creative producer; and Ann Milroy, ’20, creative manager.
Casarin encouraged all students to attend the event and paint the mural so they can make their mark at the university.
“We want this event to be a place where students can mingle and make great memories while also creating this unique piece of art,” she said. “There’s a sense of permanence to it, as the canvas will be hanging in the Center for Entrepreneurship for years to come, and I want each student who helped paint to be reminded of the impact they had at Nebraska.”