The newest addition to the YU atrium is a nature mural created by Autumn Gray and Darrin Stewart. This mural was finished and inducted into the YU the first week of September. It is located in the YU by the pool table, directly above the couches that are facing the Holden and Barstow buildings. The mural was created due to a Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Grant that Autumn and Darrin were selected for. This grant enabled them to paint a mural that would epitomize the students and faculty of this university.
The nature theme was decided by a survey of the UWS students, concerning what they wanted it to resemble. When surveyed, the majority of individuals asked that the mural incorporate the natural elements of the Twin Ports area, and this goal seemed to have been achieved. The mural is a combination of many aspects of the Superior/Duluth area, highlighting the true beauty of this community that some of us call home. Such natural elements exhibited include a forest with Lake Superior running through it, a lighthouse overlooking everything, a bridge over the lake, and a boat on the shore. The main concern that Autumn and Darrin had while creating the mural however, was to ensure that the general structure and design of the mural was broad, to avoid excluding anyone in hopes that everyone can see themselves represented somewhere in the mural. Autumn notes her aspirations for the mural, “While painting the mural, I tried to keep in mind that this was for the university and everyone who attends or works here on campus.” This is exhibited in the way that the mural is, it is something that is relatable for just about everyone.
The work put into the mural was vast and to attest that it was completed efficiently, they split up the work. Autumn assigned herself the painting of the fish, waterfall, grass, bridge, trees, rocks, and the remaining water. Darrin painted the forest and the lighthouse. Additionally, they worked together on the boat, anchor, and cliffs. Given the overall goal of the mural is to present a piece of artwork that everyone on campus can relate to, there is hidden symbolism/meaning in each aspect of the piece. Overall, the mural’s sole purpose is to mirror the experiences and opportunities available to students here at UW-Superior. Along with just adding nature aspects to the mural, there are meanings as well which Autumn explains, “The water represents the college student’s life here at the university; with the fishing being the incoming class, the bridge and pathways being the second year students, the waterfall being the third year students, and finally graduating students are represented by the lighthouse. The forest represents the different ways to become involved on campus, with pictures of some of those opportunities hidden in the leaves. The boat and anchor symbolize the historical background of Superior and that no matter where anyone goes, they are always ‘anchored’ here at UW-Superior.” These features add a deeper meaning to the piece and work towards driving home the central idea that the mural is attempting to express.
Many UWS students and staff are already asking whether or not more art work will be displayed around campus to which Autumn has to say, “I have talked to a few other faculty members about designing more murals for our campus. Nothing is set in stone yet, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.” It is evident that this mural is serving to not only represent the people on this campus but to also spark enthusiasm for future art work in buildings. If you have not seen this mural yet be sure to check it out in the YU atrium, it is a sight you do not want to miss.