Kickstarter campaign keeps memory of Sean Wu alive through art


Sean Wu (contributed)

Emily Wangen, [email protected]

With a Kickstarter campaign surpassing its goal in two days, the Iowa City downtown will have a new mural honoring Sean Wu, a UI student who died in April.

Wu, known by those on his dorm floor as Scooter, came to the University of Iowa in the fall of 2016 to study English and marketing. He was an Honors student living in Daum Residence Hall, where he met many of his friends, including campaign creator Addie Bushnell.

The campaign launched on Oct. 25 and reached its goal of $1,500 on Oct. 27. As of Monday night, the campaign had earned more than $3,000.

“It just shows how much people love Sean,” Bushnell said. “I’ve just been so touched by how many people have donated way more than I expected.”

Wu’s twin brother, Austin, said he was surprised the campaign had reached its goal in such a short amount of time.

“There’s this collective loss that everyone has felt,” he said. “And it’s a way to remember the person he was.”

Austin Wu, brother of the late Sean Wu, sits in the second floor of the IMU on Monday. Austin Wu is involved in a kick-start campaign to raise money for his brother Sean, who passed away last year on campus. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

As of now, Bushnell said the mural will depict a boy riding a scooter down a racetrack from Mario Kart. Alongside the racetrack will be images of things Wu loved, such as music, film, and phrases he frequently said.

Austin Wu said Bushnell talked about the idea with his parents, and they approved of the project. Bushnell noted they are open to suggestions and the page encourages friends and family to add suggestions for the mural with their donations.

Shirts were also made to remember Wu and were sold to his friends and given to those who donated certain amounts to the Kickstarter campaign. They were designed by Roman Starkey, a friend of Wu’s who wanted to help Bushnell with the efforts to raise money for the mural.

“That was one of the many options I made,” Starkey said. “That was one the majority of all his friends went with because they just loved the Scooter logo on the back.”

Bushnell said she hopes people who did not know Wu will come to know him through the mural. She said she wanted to find a way to honor his memory in a long-lasting way, having received inspiration from the art downtown.

“I was thinking about, ‘What if we could do some sort of piece of artwork in the downtown that everybody could see that would remind of people of Sean and what he meant to all of us,’ ” Bushnell said.

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From there, Bushnell met with people from the Iowa City Downtown District, and they said they would be able to help find a space for the artwork as well as assist in finding an artist once they raised enough funds.

At this time, Bushnell said, there is not a space selected for the mural, but she will meet with the Downtown District to find a location now that the funds are raised. She said there is no rush to complete the mural, but she is hoping it will be complete in April or May.

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