Illustration students enrich campus, city locations with vibrant murals

Far left photo by Jackson Burns Bulmer '27

From left, the student-made murals in the College of Liberal Arts elevator, School No. 35, and K-12 University Center.

RIT’s illustration and visual arts-all grades (MST) programs were busy this past academic year bringing creative beauty to campus and the Rochester community. 

Efforts by both programs yielded a trio of colorful, painted murals at three locations: the College of Liberal Arts building’s elevator, the K-12 University Center’s new office in downtown Rochester, and the entrance of Pinnacle School No. 35 in the Rochester City School District. 

The murals were created in a new special topics course called Public Illustration, taught by Lecturer Allen Douglas. Students in the class split into three teams that collaborated to bring creative concepts to life in each space. 

The impetus for the course was the positive response to a mural in the College of Art and Design’s Booth Hall elevator, painted last fall by Emma McCarthy ’24 (illustration). The explosion of colors and mythical creatures captured the imagination of others interested in using public art to enhance the experience of users.

“It all started with Emma’s mural,” Douglas said. “Everyone saw how it livened up the space and, once the word got out, there were multiple entities interested in having their own.”

“Whenever we show the work of our students in a public venue like this, everyone can benefit,” said Elizabeth Kronfield, director of the School of Art and School for American Crafts.

For the School No. 35 mural, students in the MST program first connected with fourth-graders at the school, interviewing them about their interests while discussing mural concepts around themes of visual culture, social justice, and equity. 

Based on those conversations, the young students – with direction from MST candidates — painted their mural ideas. Those formed the basis of concepts designed by the Public Illustration students, who were given a prompt of “World Peace.” One of the designs was selected and translated into the final mural. 

To decide on a theme for the Liberal Arts Hall elevator mural, fourth-year students enrolled in College of Liberal Arts majors were surveyed to select one theme from a list of several options. "Critical Thinking and Embracing a Diversity of Thoughts" was the top choice, and student muralists then drafted concept sketches to illustrate the theme. The College of Liberal Arts Student Advisory Board voted on the final concept, a colorful scene of tigers reading alongside other jungle creatures by Faith Purcell.

The students and faculty responsible for the mural projects are:

Public Illustration Class

College of Liberal Arts mural team

Violet Al-Yaseri, Alyssa Ebert, Korey Hans, Emily Offerman, Faith Purcell (created chosen design), Anh Vu, and Amelie Wold

K-12 University Center team

Atlas Costa Aguilera, Elliott Connelly, Bo Levenstein, Ashton Marhevka, Amy Nguyen, Paulina Sanchez, Mattingly Selk, Julia Tolar (created chosen design), and Warren Wang

School No. 35 team

Aster Chang, Erin Corr, Rachel How (created chosen design), Ray Lindsey, Abby Lucey, A.J. Rodrigues, Hannah Snelling, and Randy Zhou

Visual arts-all grades

Lauren Ramich (program director), Maddie Aloi, Ariana Aponte, Chyler Bastarache, Zach Bellucci, Lindsey Condame, Kylie Dow, Amanda Giglia , Emma Neukirch, Yushan Socola, Maddie Yandow, and Lisa Zhou

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