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New mural welcomes you in art department

Art alumni give art entrance new look

Art alumni daniel j kirk and Katie Green created a mural to refresh the entrance to the art department.

By Aurélie Maerten
May 3, 2016

For years, the entrance of the Department of Art has been characterised by a blank wall with a blackboard in front of it, announcing the latest departmental news and updates. With the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations in sight, the department realized it was a good time for change.

“We wanted something that would make it clear to anyone who walks through the doors that they're in a place where people make art,” says Brian Rusted, department head.

In this anniversary year, the department has made it one of its priorities to do things that recognize art alumni, such as organizing visiting artists lecture series and exhibitions of alumni. Moreover, Rusted approached alumni daniel j kirk (BFA’07) and Katie Green (BFA’14) to tackle the refresh of the art entrance.

“Both artists have established a significant presence in the city in terms of their own art work, but also for collaborating on large scale public art projects like this,” explains Rusted. “The quality and character of their work was a natural fit for this initiative.”

kirk and Green were given freedom of design for the mural, which allowed both artists the chance to play off each other’s ideas, and keeps the work open to interpretation.

“The whole purpose behind this project is to have it freeform,” says Green. “It’s not restricted to a theme. We’re responding to each other’s marks, to the context where we are, to the interactions we have while working. We let the work unfold as we go.”

One result of these interactions is the familiar face of technician Rick Calkins in the mural.  “Rick has been a big part of the department for years now. People seemed to like the idea of having him in the mural so we’re rolling with it,” says kirk.  

Both artists say that their experiences as students also comes through in the artwork.

“There is this imaginative flow to things, but also little bits of tension that are created,” says kirk. ”It’s this predator-prey thing, the relationship of being free to experiment, while at the same time experiencing more ominous forces. It was a really formative time where we’ve learned the foundations of our professional processes.”

“We are here now with a different intention,” continues Green. “The space and experience we had is so important for both of us. I feel really lucky to be here to create this work.”

kirk and Green hope that this mural will provide an opportunity to change people’s perspectives and awareness of the Department of Art.

“The art department has actually contributed to a ton of amazing art work, not only on campus, but also through its graduates,” says kirk. “There are some amazing teachers and students here.”

According to Rusted, the real joy of the mural has been in watching the alumni work, and seeing suggested forms start to come alive.

 “What stands out for me is how undaunted they are by large scale projects. There is confidence, professionalism, and an authority in each brush stroke.”

The mural can be viewed at the entrance of the Art Building, on the 6th floor of the Art Parkade. Later this summer, a second component of the art entrance will be completed: a video wall will replace the entrance blackboard, and showcase digital, photographic and media art.