Giant foot-painted mural breaks world record

Participants of Kelsey Merritt’s foot-painted mural project pose for a photo. Merritt broke the Guinness World Record with 26, 787 square feet Friday, Oct. 13, 2017.

Dylan Reynolds

Cloth canvases waved in the warm October breeze as a team of volunteers assembled the world’s largest foot-painted mural Friday on the Kent State Commons.

A few hours later, the massive art piece totaled 26,787 square feet — just enough to break the previous Guinness World Record of 25,333 square feet held by a mural in Hong Kong.

Kelsey Merritt, a senior fashion merchandising major who planned and organized the mural, had been up since 7 a.m. putting together the project that has been in the works for several months, and was painted over the past two weeks. She and about 20 volunteers arranged the footprint-covered canvases.

When the mural was finally completed around 5 p.m., Merritt, tired and splotched with paint, said she felt lost for words.

“I can’t believe it’s done,” Merritt said. “Each footprint is a story. … People have left something behind here.”

Merritt envisioned the project as a way to unite the Kent community in the midst of negative news stories.

“My favorite stories are ones that are fun, and there’s hope,” she said last month. “I wanted to bring that to Kent, showing this is an awesome thing. It’s fun; it gets a whole community together.”

The design was a series of green, yellow, black, red and blue stripes representing the colors of the Olympic rings. Merritt said she chose the design because every country’s flag colors are included.

An official Guinness World Records judge was not on site, so two witnesses and a surveyor had to examine the project. The surveyors, David Rush and Jimmy Fetzer, confirmed the mural’s size. Rush said he didn’t know the size to beat before he took the measurements.

“It was actually nice not knowing what the record was and going at it impartially and taking the measurements,” he said. “We both took the measurements and came up with a pretty exact (number).” 

The men walked around the canvases twice with a surveyor’s wheel, Merritt following closely behind. Once the area was calculated, the crowd of volunteers erupted in cheers when they realized the record was broken.

Among the volunteers at the Commons were students, Merritt’s close friends and her parents, whom she praised for their help.

“They’ve been supporting me since the beginning,” Merritt said. “This would be nothing without their love and support, which is awesome.”

Another volunteer was Olivia D’Andrea, a junior pre-nursing major. She was one of many students and community members who dipped their feet in paint and walked across the canvas at events like Creativity Festival over the past two weeks.

“It was really interesting to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I just thought it was really amazing to be able help (Merritt) in that respect,” D’Andrea said.

D’Andrea hopes the project’s message will resonate with students and community members.

“I hope that people will see and understand how amazing and diverse this campus is and how impactful it is to get involved,” D’Andrea said. “And to just reach out to those people who might be different from you and realize that something beautiful and some beautiful relationship can come out of that.”

Dylan Reynolds is the business and neighborhood reporter. Contact him at [email protected]