The University of Utah’s Department of Art & Art History and College of Mines & Earth Sciences joined in a collaborative process to create a community-based mural that combines reflections of both the hard sciences and human nature of art.
The art-making approach we take in my Painting Special Topics- Murals course is multifaceted with shared goals of the medium of murals and working together to form the message.
In the spring of 2018, I met College of Mines & Earth Sciences Dean Darryl Butt, a foremost scientist who studies materials process and performance in extreme conditions. I learned that he is an avid landscape painter and I invited him to join my class at the Taft Nicholson Center in Montana to plein-air paint. Those in attendance were also honored to have him present his research on the Faiyum Mummies that encompasses analyzing paint pigments at the atomic level. It was there that we began formulating ways to create a collaborative mural for the college at the Browning Building during this residency.
For this process, student artists and College of Mines & Earth Sciences, students, faculty and staff initially met and entered into dialogue to integrate cognitive and aesthetic experiences to aid in the mural’s development. This inclusive process resulted in imagery that combines Utah’s surrounding lands suggesting the research of atmospheric sciences, geology and geophysics, materials science and engineering and mining engineering.
Together, artists and scientists codified our ideas into seven murals displayed online to allow for a community vote to select the work they deemed to represent the college best. After a vote that included 113 participants from the College of Mines & Earth Sciences, “Walking in Beauty” was selected as the permanent mural. The image’s aesthetic language intends to wish peace, happiness, joy and confidence to whoever passes by it.
The coronavirus pandemic altered our traditional mural-making process. We developed a hybrid approach by combining the traditional painting process and technology. By printing the painting onto aluminum and leaving marks and imperfections of the hand, we brought an artistic touch to the earth sciences.
Course: Art #4180 Painting Special Topics-Murals
V. Kim Martinez