In the midst of budget cuts, UAA faculty, staff and students came up with an idea to show positive change in the Professional Studies Building. A “living art” mural is in progress and is set to bring light to the old building.
Built in 1973, the PSB is one of UAA’s oldest buildings. Upon walking in, students can quickly observe that the building is aged and outdated.
“All of the walls are white and not super enticing to be at,” Yoshina Okamot, a journalism and public communications student whose classes are all located in the PSB said.
Most of the walls are a plain white color and not many paintings or decorations are hung to light the place up. Brenda Levesque, the building manager of the PSB, has been trying for years to get approval to get artwork and different colors on the wall but has frequently got shut down. Levesque was inspired by the murals done in the Gorsuch commons, and pitched an idea to the facilities director as well as the art department and got an approval to do a mural created by UAA art students.
“What we wanted really is living art. So when we were thinking of the murals, it was something that we looked at as a contribution to the university from our talented art students,” Levesque said.
Thomas Chung, an assistant professor in painting, was chosen by Levesque to lead the students in making the murals. He is thrilled his students get to be part of this project.
“I think it is an exciting opportunity for them to be able to have their voices heard, to get an opinion out, to share an idea with a broader audience,” Chung said.
About 40 students between Chung’s Intermediate and Advanced Painting classes, as well his beginning painting class will be working on the murals.
The murals are done with the idea of general surrealism and surrealism with an Alaskan theme. Surrealism is an art movement that dealt in the subconscious with a lot of imagery from dreams most famously Salvadore Dali and Frida Kahlo.
Students have had the opportunity to have an individual voice and moment in the mural, but in the end, they will ultimately create a united cohesive piece. The mural has many Alaskan animals and scenery but all really gravitates around the central theme of the creation myth. The other mural will be more of a geometric mural that has individual paintings that sit within a larger painting. The Alaska-themed mural will be done on a 30 foot long roll of canvas and the other mural will be mounted panels on a painted wall.
Most of the art will be done in the Art Studio and despite the budget cuts, the proposal has gotten many donations from departments and has a max budget of $800.
The mural is more than just a painting for the students and UAA, it provides a bond between the two. Levesque hopes that this can be an ongoing project and that new walls can be utilized every year. Students can hope to see these murals by the beginning of next month.