The 15-member committee, which was started last year and is one of SGA’s largest committees, selected four student artists from a pool of 15 applicants to design and paint the mural. The group plans to start painting in March.
Adrienne Nel, BC ’16 and SGA’s representative for arts and culture, said she came up with the idea for a student mural last year after noticing that student art was largely absent from Barnard’s campus.
“I realize that we don’t have any permanent student installations on campus, and for a school so focused on the arts and the creation of art, I thought it was strange,” Nel said. “I thought public art would be really important to our campus.”
Gail Beltrone, Barnard’s vice president for campus services, said in an email that the mural had the potential to be “a lasting contribution to Barnard.”
“We are pleased that students are taking the initiative to bring more art to campus and enhance the Diana Center as a true community space,” Beltrone added.
Sasha Brenman, BC ’16 and one of the selected artists, said that while she and the three other painters are just starting to design the mural, they already know they plan on focusing on the diversity of student expression at Barnard.
“The thing about Barnard which we are definitely going to incorporate into the mural is there is art here in so many different forms,” Brenman said. “When people think of art, they think of painting—the visual arts—and then music and dance. But beyond that, there are so many forms of art that we see at this school, and Barnard is really about students expressing themselves artistically in different ways.”
Nel said that, in her initial meeting with the four artists, they decided they wanted the painting to represent their lives at Barnard, both on campus and in the city.
“They stressed the fact that art isn’t just dancing or painting, it’s what you’re doing in the chemistry lab, and it’s what problems you’re solving in calculus,” Nel said. “And all the finalists want to incorporate the city as an integral part to life on campus.”
Asia Cunningham, BC ’17 and another of the four artists, said that the group is also looking for ways to include Barnard’s signature main gates in the mural’s final design.
“We all agreed that we wanted to include the Barnard gates—however that will look—in our design because the gates just seem to be the quintessential thing that defines Barnard that everyone can relate to,” Cunningham said.
Artist Rachael Dottle, BC ’16 and the illustrator associate for Spectator, said that she liked that the project was a group effort.
“I think art on campus should be collaborative and reflect the idea that people are working together as a community,” Dottle said.
Nel said that only part of the wall will be painted this year, leaving the rest for future generations of students to add onto.
“Our long-term plan with the mural is that this year’s muralists will only be painting a portion of the wall, and it will be a living work of art,” Nel said. “The painting process will continue, and hopefully it will expand to grow into the stairwell.”
With the mural starting on the Diana’s lowest floor, Nel said the mural could eventually climb up the full height of the building’s staircase.
“I think that whole space down there is very open, and when people are down there, it’s a space to have conversations and an environment that can be thought-provoking, and it’s also right by the [Glicker-Milstein] Theatre, so it seems fitting it’s near where some of the arts are,” Cunningham said.
Joanne Raptis, BC ’16 and another finalist, said the Diana was “an appropriate place for the mural” because of the large numbers 6f people who pass through it compared with other Barnard buildings.
Nel said that painting the mural won’t be a disturbance to students.
“Facilities doesn’t see a problem with interruption of traffic at all,” Nel said. “We’re dealing with a small portion of the wall. We’re figuring out the logistics for it to be a safe environment.”
Until work starts in March, the four artists will be meeting and planning out the mural’s design, materials, and budget.
“I’ve always loved to paint, so the opportunity to be able to leave a lasting legacy in paint at Barnard, about Barnard, definitely sounded like an amazing opportunity,” Raptis said. “I’ve always been interested in ways to use art to give back to the community or that benefits others, and I think a mural is something everyone can enjoy.”