NRECA Commission

by Susan Abbott

I've been commissioned by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to produce a mural installation for the meeting room of their headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The NRECA has its roots in President Roosevelt's New Deal program to improve the life and economy of rural areas. More than sixty years later the NRECA is still going strong, with more than 900 member cooperatives serving 42 million people in 47 states, and also programs in developing countries around the world.

My concept for the forty foot mural that will span the width of their headquarter's meeting room is to combine a narrative about the NRECA's mission with a design of shapes and colors that reads from all parts of the large hall.

Here's my first study, where I sketched out my idea: a road (with power lines, of course!) that wends through a stylized landscape of coast to coast America. Regional architecture represents the populations served by NRECA's member cooperatives.


I've decided to work with a limited palette of three hues (cadmium yellow pale, alizarin crimson, and prussian blue) for the paintings, so I can keep color integrated over such a large area. Three mixed primaries yield a surprisingly large possibility of colors:


Superimposing a line drawing of my composition over a photograph of the architectural niches in the room gives an idea of the scale of the paintings:


And here's a section of the watercolor studies for my eventual large oil paintings:



The project will be completed by November. Subscribe to Studio News for updates!