A mural painted on the west side of Emily Nix Photography was done by a Seward High graduate that wanted the painting to represent the town of Seward by spelling out “Seward” with different landmarks throughout the city.
“I thought it might be fun to have a puzzle type of wall,” Nate Lewis said. “When you’re driving by and you’re that close, none of those marks mean anything. It’s just motion when you’re driving by. But when you cross the street and look at it, it’s all spaced out to spell Seward.”
Lewis grew up in Lincoln and moved to Seward when he was in the sixth grade. He said he fell out of art when he first got to Seward to fit in better but picked it back up when he realized there were people in town who were into it.
“Tyson Horn, Miss Thompson and Nate Knott all elevated my passion for art,” he said. “They really influenced me at a young age. They are really amazing thinkers.”
Lewis also said he was influenced into art when he worked with mentors in Lincoln.
Alyssa Hendrix of Seward used to own the building and asked him to work on it in December of 2021.
“She had just had it restored, and she wanted to imagine the wall and needed help doing that,” he said. “Alyssa already had some ideas and objects that she had in mind and asked if I could expand on that.”
Lewis decided to take on the project during 2022 and his last semester of college at the Kansas City Art Institute.
“My professors actually let me work on some of it during school,” he said. “That was way too nice of them. They saw that it was taking a lot of work.”
Lewis said that the mural is done even though there is white space. He said the white space was intentional.
“It wasn’t a lazy decision, I wanted breathing room,” he said. “It’s a cool area and I want it to feel light and energetic. I think the top part being dark blue would have been way too top-heavy.”
Painting the mural wasn’t an easy process for Lewis. He said he thought a lot about the best way to represent Seward.
“There was a lot of visual research,” he said. “I was trying to make this for the type of people that I know have been here for a long time.”
Lewis said that another person who influenced his art was Reinhold Marxhausen, a famous artist from Seward.
“His influence is all over this town,” he said. “His wall around the corner from where I was working at is typographic with the poem, but it’s more straightforward. I was considering that into my wall and I like what he did, but it wasn’t as straightforward. I wanted to have more room for interpretation.”
Along with having a different perspective, Lewis thinks it’s important to have art like this in towns because it brings an outsider’s lens into Seward.
“Just because Seward is a smaller, rural farm community doesn’t mean we can’t be on the same platform as other places,” he said.