A picture worth a thousand words

Renowned artist Watie White honors Millard’s diversity on local mural


A boy throwing a golden football. A cottagecore girl enjoying a picnic. Two students antiquing old jackets, heirlooms of their families.

These are just a few of the many figures depicted on the large painting that outlines the back of the scoreboard at Millard South’s Buell Stadium. Hand-painted by local artist Watie White between February and August 2021, the mural aims to represent students in the Millard district.

“Watie White, an amazing wood carving artist is the one who sketched and painted the mural,” senior Sammy Ward, one of the students featured in the mural, said. “The idea around it was how people spend their time and how they make their fun in Millard, specifically the teens.”

The mural displays White’s paintings of several students from across the Millard district. Four seniors from Millard North are painted on the mural–Ward, Aiden Lewald, Kiera Levering, and Avery Adams. Ward was initially selected to paint the mural along with two other Millard students.

“The three of us went to a few meetings to discuss what would actually be on the mural, which is where we decided to focus on how teens make fun,” Ward said. 

However, as COVID-19 became an increasing concern, White’s plan for the mural changed. Instead of painting the mural, the three students would be painted on the mural itself.

“Originally, I was selected to paint the mural with those other two girls,” Ward said. “Because of COVID-19, we were instead just going to be part of a photoshoot at White’s gallery downtown.”

Being a part of White’s photoshoot wasn’t the only surprise in store for them. Each of the three artists was able to bring a few friends along to join them in the experience.

“I would have loved to be able to paint it like I was chosen to do, but going to a photoshoot at a bigwig artist’s art gallery with my friends was really exciting,” Ward said.

Each student on the mural had something different to take away from the experience. They saw the artwork as something that not only held their identities, but also something that held their friendship.

“This mural feels surreal to me, I’ve never been a part of something this big before,” Adams said. “I was extremely excited that Sammy gave me a chance to be on a mural, and I felt like our friendship is now stronger and true.”

Along with personality and friendship, the mural contains familial values as well. Both Ward and Levering are depicted wearing coats that once belonged to their relatives.

“I am depicted carrying my grandfather’s coat and wearing a vintage coat because I enjoy thriving and antiques,” Levering said. “I like that my grandfather’s coat will be on a mural for a long time so he’ll be memorialized a bit.”

While Levering sports her grandfather’s coat in the mural, Ward dons her uncle’s old jacket. A Millard graduate himself, her uncle is happy to have his jacket presented on the painting.

“I also like it because the jacket I’m wearing on the mural is my Uncle’s old jacket from when he went to Millard schools, and he is really thrilled about having his old jacket on that mural,” Ward said.

Overall, White’s creation has generated positive opinions from the students painted on it. Pleased with the results of his work, they are proud and honored to be featured on the mural.

“I was a little nervous to see how I’d look at it, but seeing the outcome, I’m very happy with it,” Adams said. “Watie White is such an amazing and talented artist, he deserves more recognition than he gets.”