City selects artist for convention center murals

HARLINGEN — Against a turquoise blue background, bright tones of yellow and orange might depict features of the city’s agricultural and military history.

Along the entry of the $16.7 million convention center, a second mural’s bright hues may foretell the city’s future.

As she plans their creation, San Antonio artist Diana Kersey is counting on her murals becoming the city’s “icons.”

Earlier this week, city commissioners approved a $75,000 contract with Kersey to create two ceramic-tile murals to stand across the brick façade of the 44,436-square-foot convention center.

“I’m super-excited,” Kersey said yesterday. “I did a lot of research about the history of Harlingen. I learned a lot about your city.”

In March, a committee selected Kersey out of a list of four artists to create the two 10-foot-wide by 5-foot-6-inch murals depicting the city’s history and future.

“We’re excited about having her down here working on the project,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said.

Out of the four applicants, Kersey was the candidate with experience in ceramic tile works, he said.

Since 2003, the city of San Antonio has commissioned Kersey to create and restore ceramic tile artwork as well as sculptures.

“She uses the right media we’re looking for,” Gonzalez said.

Kersey’s work includes a $50,000 ceramic-tile project along San Antonio’s Mill Race Bridge at Brackenridge Park, which includes 208 feet of artwork.

“She’s got a lot of experience in public art projects,” Gonzalez said.

Next month, she is expected to begin working on the convention center murals, whose illustrated drafts feature images of trains, King Cotton and the Harlingen Air Base.

“We’re tweaking them,” Gonzalez said.

Under her contract, Kersey is expected to complete the murals in August.

“It will be a very colorful palette,” Kersey, who holds a master’s of fine arts degree in ceramics from Washington State University, said. “We’re going to include a lot of images of nature. My hope is that the mural will become an icon for Harlingen and when people come to conventions they will get their photos made in front of it.”

More Information

$75,000 contract

Two 10-foot-wide by 5-foot-6-inch murals

Themes include the city’s history and future

Diana Kersey

Masters of fine arts degree in ceramics from Washington State University, 1997

Owner of Kersey Ceramics, San Antonio