HENRICO, Va. -- Students at Short Pump Middle School returned to classes to find a new mural in the school gym.
The giant mascot was unveiled at the "Welcome Back to School Rally," on Tuesday.
The artist Tammy Hinkle, who has been working in Richmond for 30 years, embraces the technique "Trompe L'oeil;" when an artist uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion that the object exists in three dimensions. She calls it "fool your eye," which is also the name of her Facebook page.
That's why it looks like a massive puma is emerging from the brick wall of the gymnasium.
"This is one of my favorites, it really is," Hinkle said.
Principal Thomas McAuley, who has been with Henrico County schools for 21 years, principal at Short Pump for three, said that the mural was a culmination of the PTA and administration brainstorming what would create a sense of pride for the students.
“We wanted to add life to the gym, and enthusiasm for the students," he said. "Not just for the athletes, but to get all students energized.”
“The pride was extremely tangible," McAuley added.
The work was started in July, and Hinkle said it took about 70 hours to complete. She used a three-level scaffolding to get the job done.
“We are so thankful for the expertise, the hard work and the skill that she put into it," McAuley said of the school project.
Hinkle moved to Richmond in 1989, from the Tidewater area, to start her own mural company.
"Creating artful solutions to eyesores in the home," is her specialty, but she has also done a lot of murals around the metro-area.
She also said that she enjoys the recent population of murals in the city, thanks to the Richmond Mural Project and the Street Art Festival.
"It adds a lot to the city to have the extra color," Hinkle said. "Some of them are bizarre, but they are all well done."