Young artists

The completed mural stands just off West College Street behind the west side of the Fayetteville square. This week, the three artists who worked together to complete the mural, are highlighted. They are Sophie Buck, Sarah Hammell, and Chayton Stephens.

The three young artists involved in the Creative Placemaking mural project recently revealed to the community are highlighted this week as they also share how the experience has impacted them.

The mural, revealed Nov. 1, was headed by Fayetteville artist Melanie Laten, but it was the talents of these young artists – Sophie Buck, Sarah Hammell, and Chayton Stephens – that brought the mural to its fruition. They were selected as a result of their winning scholarships offered as a collaborative effort through the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Arts Center and the Fayetteville Rotary Club.


Sophie Buck

A senior in high school this year, Sophie has been playing the fiddle for eight years, and she also loves playing the guitar, mandolin, viola, and the cello. Currently, Sophie is teaching beginning fiddle lessons at the Huntsville Strings Shop.

Sophie performs often with her band, Cotton & Clover, all over north Alabama and southern middle Tennessee. She plans to pursue her dream career as a musician, artist, photographer, and writer at Middle Tennessee State University this fall. She is a self-taught artist and has been homeschooled her whole life.

“The entire process has been an extremely positive experience,” said Sophie, noting that is the biggest painting project she’s ever undertaken. “Being involved in the mural allowed me to branch out and try a whole new range of techniques, including stippling, using new mediums, and drawing large objects.”

Besides acquiring new skills, Sophie gained experience over the summer scheduling her time and coordinating with other artists involved in the project. Sophie said she is very thankful for this opportunity to learn new skills and do what she loves, all the while giving back to her community.

“Knowing that I am a part of giving back to my community is one my biggest satisfactions,” she said. “I love my town, and I’m grateful to help make it a better place.”


Sarah Hammell

“Working on the mural was a super great experience,” said Hammell. “When Mrs. Melanie first asked me about it, I was immediately thrilled to be invited to be a part of such a large project.

“I’d met her through the art center’s scholarship competition and knew that the image she wanted to give the town would be amazing,” she continued. “I don’t think Sophie, Chayton, or I were used to working in such a large scale as the mural, but it didn’t take us long to get a rhythm where we would all paint together and have a collective idea of how each panel would go.

“All our individual styles blended together into the mural, and I think it’s another thing that makes the mural reflect how the town of Fayetteville really is,” she added.


Chayton Stephens

“Through many experiences in life, we as humans look for the positive attributes of ourselves,” said Chayton. “When asked to reflect on what I learned from this experience, obviously, I want to highlight the positive things.

“I learned that with the right team anything is possible, and if you work hard towards a goal, the outcome can be priceless.

“However, sometimes life is more so about the negatives that we learn about ourselves. When you spend time learning about something that you may not be so good at, you can learn areas you need to work on to better refine these certain skills,” Chayton continued. “That’s why I am willing to tell that from this experience I learned that self-management is an area where I could use some improvement. So from this experience that I was blessed to have, I learned that I could use improvement, which can only aid me in the future.

“I was also blessed to win the Rotary art scholarship two years ago, which lead me to the mural opportunity through Melanie Laten in the first place,” she said. “Ms. Melanie has been my art instructor since I was in the fifth grade.

“Now, a senior in high school, she saw potential in me that I didn’t see and placed me on the spectacular team that completed the mural which you can see in town today. Without her, I would have never had this opportunity, and I thank her for that.”

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