Midland College’s Cogdell Learning Center is getting a facelift. Local artist Janet
Pontious won a $5,000 contest to paint a mural on the building.
“I was trying to reproduce the mural according to the original design, but it definitely
has my input on the colors and many of the other things,” Pontious said. “There is
a lot of history behind this mural, so I tried to keep everything right where it was
before the sun faded it. The artwork has been very interesting to re-create.”
Pontious has been able to mix regular indoor-outdoor house paint to create all the
colors for the mural. She works with the largest brush she can find, holding it from
the tip of the brush.
“The brush has to be stiff; it has to have some strength to it,” Pontious said. “For
details, I use smaller brushes, but with a piece this big I have some leeway. What
I have learned from doing a lot of other murals is that people admire murals from
a distance rather than up close. Viewers do not usually see the details.”
Pontious started drawing when she was very young, and her preferred canvas was the
same as it is now: walls.
“I started drawing on walls when I was three years old,” Pontious said. “My mother
did not appreciate it, but that was where I got my start. I was very industrious;
I would confiscate all the scratch paper in the house, and I would I would cut the
side of brown paper grocery bags, take out the bottom and iron it flat to draw on
The multicultural Cogdell Learning Center mural showcases several flowers, animals
and five large faces which include one Caucasian American, one Native American, one
Asian American, one Hispanic American and one African American. Its intricate background
includes many warm and cool colors along with dwellings, trees and statues.
The project is completed just in time for Cogdell Learning Center’s 25th Anniversary
Celebration on Friday, April 12 at 11:45. The public is invited and encouraged to
attend the event at the Center, located at 201 W. Florida Street, just east of Big
Carol Subia is a trustee of the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship. The award was funded
by Mr. Cogdell and pays for in-state tuition, fees and books for students at Midland
College during the fall and spring semesters until they graduate with an associate
degree. Students may then continue to receive the scholarship if they stay at Midland
College working toward one of Midland College’s bachelor degrees or transfer to the
University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
Subia worked with Mr. Cogdell until his death in 1997. She says he would have loved
“The mural is a representation of the many different cultures that have been through
the Codgell Learning Center,” Subia said. “Mr. Cogdell loved this area, his desire
was to one day provide a way for the community of the south side to have an avenue
for higher education. He especially felt a close connection with the Hispanic community.
The mural depicts a picture of MC bridging the gap for first generation scholars.”
Employees at the Cogdell Learning Center help residents apply for college, financial
aid and get ready to register. In the classrooms, faculty teach English as a Second
Language (ESL), U.S. citizenship, GED preparation and other classes. Staff of the
Midland College Business & Economic Development Center, also housed at Cogdell, help
Midland residents improve their credit score, prepare for home ownership and/or start
a small business.
“During the first 25 years in operation, the Cogdell Learning Center has opened the
doors of opportunity and has made many dreams come true,” said Subia. “Mr. Cogdell
would be very pleased with the amount of scholars who have benefited from his scholarship
and the diverse programs provided at the Cogdell Learning Center. I can just see
him now smiling with great pride and satisfaction.”
Graduating from Midland College in 1988 with a degree in Business Management, Subia
is the first college graduate in her family. The Cogdell Learning Center did not exist
then, but Subia says she would have loved to have the help that the Center provides.
“Being a first generation college student, I remember it was a challenge,” said Subia.
“First, I was shy, and I did not know who to contact for advice or for help. Secondly,
I felt alone and discouraged. Being a trustee for the Bill Pace Cogdell Scholarship
has been an honor to be part of bridging the gap for local residents.”
For more information about Cogdell Center visit midland.edu/cogdell