An original 20×24-inch painting that William Byrd senior Ashley Roop painted of Carvins Cove has been transformed into a stunning mural four stories high on the side of the Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA) building in downtown Roanoke.
Roop said her painting was done in acrylics as an interpretation of a photograph of Carvins Cove. It was then digitalized on vinyl by a local sign company and installed in early October on the side of the building at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Franklin Road. The mural faces Franklin Road on the building that was formerly Heironimus Department Store.
WVWA Public Relations Manger Sarah Baumgardner said the company has recently completed renovations to the building and wanted to do something creative with the large blank canvas of the exterior wall. They discovered photographs from the 1950s which showed artistic advertisements for National Business College adorning the wall.
The WVWA is well known for its commitment to education through such programs as its apprenticeships with Roanoke County Schools and officials thought of the mural project as another opportunity to connect with students and their education.
Baumgardner said the WVWA wanted to “capture the beauty of the water in our region and to incorporate art by youth in the area. Working with art was just one more way to inspire young people.”
“I had heard the water authority was looking for local artists and businesses to submit artwork to fit the theme of their mission statement to go on the wall, so I decided to submit a piece,” said Roop. “Mrs. Baumgardner had told me they liked the idea of using one of their water sources, such as Carvins Cove.”
The sign company said the vinyl installation will most likely last for about three years. Then the WVWA will probably give another student the opportunity to create a massive work of art.
Roop said her love for art dates from her kindergarten days. She has participated in the Roanoke County Schools Gifted Art Program since elementary school. She has taken art classes at William Byrd with teachers Denise Sartell and Allyson Goin, and also has taken private lessons with Jason Fizer at Fizer Fine Art.
“I taught Ashley when she took Art I and Art II,” said Sartell. “Ashley is inspirational. She is a role model to her peers and adults as well. She has a strong work ethic and is very self-motivated. She always takes her time to do everything just right. Ashley has a calm spirit which can be seen and experienced when viewing her art. She is talented beyond her years.”
“This is my first year having Ashley as a student, and I have been blessed to get to know her,” said Goin. “She is a sweet and quiet student who focuses on her art inside and outside of the classroom. She is dedicated to continuing to grow as an artist and with her current level of ability I see her going far.”
Roop has entered several art competitions in the past at Parkway Christian Academy, the Carilion Healing Arts Foundation, and with the Roanoke County Schools Festival In the Park Art Exhibition. Her work was on display at the annual Art Show at WBHS last spring.
She says her favorite genre of art is colored pencils, but she enjoys acrylic painting as well.
She currently does work on commission, mostly pets and landscapes.
Roop plans to attend Roanoke College next fall.
“I don’t think I’ll make art my career, but I will definitely continue with art,” said Roop. “I would like to use art in a career.”
Roop is the daughter of Michael and Sandi Roop. Her entire family spent the night until about 3 a.m. at the WVWA when her painting was installed– completed on her 18th birthday.
“It felt great to see it go up and I enjoyed spending that time with my family,” Roop said. “They are all very supportive.”
Baumgardner said Roop’s parents especially appreciated the aspect of the project which involved professional talks with Baumgardner and the WVWA, pitching her ideas to them, and making adjustments as called for.
“My parents were very excited that I had this opportunity to present my artwork and work through the process to create the mural,” said Roop. “I have enjoyed working with Mrs. Baumgardner to create the design for the mural. It has been a great experience and I hope to use what I’ve learned in future projects.”
Her other interests include playing the piano, making jewelry, spending time with friends and family, and playing with her Yorkie pups, Simba and Zuri.