"I don't think painting is going to help," said Joel Carlson, a senior from Lenexa, as he dabbed at the 30-foot canvas. "But when something like this happens, people just want to do things together."
And the painting took all forms. Later in the afternoon, an unidentified student shed his clothes, battered himself with paint and dashed across the canvas like it was a giant Slip 'N Slide.
After applause from the crowd, the artist took off, presumably headed for a cold shower.
The canvas lay on the ground on top of a larger plastic tarp in front of the Art and Design Building.
Every few minutes, a student or two would walk by and look at the designs forming. Some would kick off their shoes, grab a brush and start painting in silence.
Lisa Thalhammer, a junior fine arts and painting major from St. Louis, helped organize the painting effort, which wrapped up Friday afternoon.
She said the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the plane that crashed outside Pittsburgh last week were just too much to deal with alone.
"I thought the only way to express that was to have a collaborative effort," Thalhammer said. "It just reinforces the whole idea of unity."
She rounded up paints and brushes from various sources, and the school donated the canvas and tarp.
As the sun bore down on the students, peace signs, American flags, and slogans flowed from their brushes. "What have we given birth to?" the canvas asked.
One woman who declined to be identified wrote in Japanese for the wish of world peace. In one corner, the twin towers appeared in flames.
Thalhammer said she hopes that the canvas can hang somewhere at KU and then possibly be auctioned to benefit the American Red Cross.
-- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 832-7221.