Carmel High School students paint mural on Monon tunnel below 116th Street


Carmel High School art students are using their skills for a mural in the Monon Greenway tunnel that runs below 116th Street.

This marks the second time students have painted a tunnel, with the first one along the Monon near City Center.

The concept for the 116th Street tunnel mural was created by Emily Garnes, a 2022 CHS graduate.

“She was the one who created all the features, like the birds, animals and trees,” said Jen Bubp, CHS arts department chair. “She was doing it on her computer as graphic design. What is cool about the program is the kids are learning real software applications that are preparing them for their careers in graphic design. It’s exciting from a student standpoint that this is her idea.”

Garnes, who attends Hillsdale (Mich.) College, visited the project early and has seen photos of the mural in progress.

“But I haven’t seen the whole finished project – super nervous, but excited,” Garnes said. “Working remotely while starting college was definitely the most challenging part of this project. But I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity and beyond thrilled to see how it turns out.”

Bubp said Carmel Parks and Recreation Dept. officials wanted the tunnel to be nature themed.

“They wanted to be able to use it as a teaching tool for the kids that take summer camp classes,” Bubp said.

Bubp said Garnes’ work was chosen by the Carmel Public Arts Advisory Board from three finalists.

“We decided we wanted plants and animals native to Indiana,” Bubp said. “She had the challenge of how to show the four seasons. I think it flows one season to the next.”

Bubp said approximately 20 CHS art students, with two other art teachers, worked on the project. She said the goal is to place murals on all tunnels along the Monon.

“We’re teaching the kids to give back to the community and use their skills in a much broader sense,” Bubp said.

Senior Florence Hargitt, president of the National Art Honor Society at CHS, said it’s interesting to see how an idea becomes an actual project.

“It feels like it’s making an impact, because people come down the Monon all the time,” Hargitt said. “It’s insane to see it come together.”

John-Michael Polley, a 2009 CHS graduate, is president of O.N.E. Consulting. He helped Bubp with the planning and transforming the art from a graphic design to the mural.

“We’ve worked daily with the artist to design a catalog of native wildlife and plant life,” said Polley, whose company is a creative strategy consulting services group.