On the corner of Fifth Avenue and Inter-Garrison Road, a central intersection on the CSU Monterey Bay campus, the future is getting brighter with every brush stroke.
Over the last year, students and faculty of CSUMB’s Visual and Public Arts program have been busy designing and painting the “Vision Mural,” a vibrant interpretation of the university’s identity that brings the corner to life.
“When people come to CSUMB and they see this mural, they get a sense of the university,” says VPA Professor Johanna Poethig. “This is an expression of community.”
The 410-foot-long Vision Mural replaces an older VPA mural, “Signs and Symbols,” that students started on September 11, 2001. That mural covered up the original Fort Ord-era mural of tanks and military symbols.
But due to concerns about the toxic lead paint of the original, university officials decided to remove both Signs and Symbols and the lead paint beneath it in mid-2013.
“People were mad when the old mural was gone and it was just white,” says VPA student Elgene Tumacder, as he stands next the mural with a paintbrush in hand. “But once we started painting, now they can’t stop talking about it.”
The mural’s name is inspired by CSUMB’s 710-word vision statement, which it reflects. But unlike Signs and Symbols, which had excerpts, this mural doesn’t spell out a single word.
“This time we decided to do it just with images,” Poethig says.
VPA students and faculty designed the mural last spring and began painting it last fall. Though the inauguration ceremony isn’t until April 30, it looks close to completion. At its center is a compass flanked by two giant lenses.
“A compass can help lead you somewhere, and a lens can help you focus,” says mural supervisor and VPA alum John Elliott, as he stands next to Tumacder and adds brush strokes.
Around the corner on a ladder is Armen Antaramian, who transferred to CSUMB this semester and joined the VPA Painting and Mural class.
“Coming here, I had no structure in my painting,” he says. “I’m learning you have to have structure in everything you do, especially in a mural.”
In Poethig’s eyes, a mural is a classroom. “It’s an incredible learning tool, from the design to the transfer of design to the painting,” she says.
It’s also a source of pride.
“I’m definitely putting it on my résumé,” Tumacder says.