Life’s Canvas – Fernung takes art love to street

Life’s Canvas – Fernung takes art love to street

Artistry isn't hard to imagine on a football field.

The seamless and clockwork-like motion of a team coming together on a big play or over an entire game is something coaches, fans and players dream of.

Manchester University rising junior offensive lineman Tanner Fernung advances his love for art one step further … doing so beyond the gridiron.

A native of Sharpsville, Ind., his ability to sketch and manipulate 3D visuals with colors and layers got him national social media attention and a unique job.

"When I was younger, I might not have been the best student from time to time," he sheepishly admitted. "I was always doodling or drawing though. So, as high school approached, I took an art class, and I loved it from the beginning.

"I probably enjoyed it too much … going all out for the full class hour and then being worn out [to do much of anything else]," he added with a laugh. "Learning to pace yourself is important, and, after a while, I figured that out."

From the hallowed halls of Tri-Central High School to the art classrooms at Manchester University, Fernung's daily routine didn't and doesn't go too far without getting some type of art work in.

"I still like to doodle, and that's the basis [of art]," he said. "My first love overall is street art, though. It's coming into its own [along many levels]."

His work on a hometown alley's building wall, portraying the curmudgeonly grandfather from the Pixar Studio's hit movie "Up," has led Fernung to great heights. It got noticed by the
world-renowned Graffiti Mansion in Los Angeles, Calif., and, shortly thereafter, recognition of his work landed him an opportunity in the neighboring community of Tipton.

"[A Tipton community group] was taking applications to paint a mural next to the Subway," Fernung noted. "Word had gotten out about [my work in Sharpsville], and I was fortunate to be commissioned.

"[The Tipton mural] will be bigger," he added. "It's 20 feet by 10 feet. I've painted two wings in the space where townspeople can get their photos taken as an interactive opportunity."

Fernung's summer stylings continue his move up in the world of graffiti. The art/exercise science major doesn't have plans of a significant career in the field, as he's aiming at art or occupational therapy after graduating in May 2020, but he's hoping for a tag (i.e., an artist signature) to be developed.

"I've got credit what [Tri-Central art teacher James] Huntley taught me," he reflected. "Mr. Huntley was always talking about drawing from scratch and expanding his mind. As I was in his classes, I was able to visit New York City and see the graffiti/street art. I was determined to do similar things once I was exposed [to it].

"Graffiti, in a simple form, is taking art large-scale," he added. "Sketching your ideas is the beginning, so it comes naturally to me. If you can work colors into 3D drawings, you're pretty much set. I've used my drawing background coupled with working construction a few summers to understand textures and so forth in the painting process."

Even if a full-scale graffiti profession and a work on display at the Graffiti Mansion isn't in the cards for Tanner, he knows his love of art could be able to help others someday.

"Art therapy is relatively new in Indiana," he said. "As an example, it can help people who have had strokes develop some range of motion by finger painting and so forth. It's a therapeutic option when physical therapy isn't possible."

Artistry in motion … whether it's with his Spartan football teammates or bettering communities and people around him Tanner Fernung continues to impact his world.

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