By Samantha Wilson
City on a Hill Press Reporter
Exiting the bridge into Kresge College, students are met with a colorful wall encasing one of the apartment complexes. A beautiful mountain landscape casts shadows over barren trees that loom over the land. A violent purple sky is specked with stars and clouds that conceal figures in the background. This artwork is not alone, but accompanied by four other, equally brilliant murals across the face of Kresge.
The murals in Kresge College are the creation of Kresge students of the past. Soon, current students will have the chance to craft a legacy upon one of the walls as a contest heats up to determine the next mural design.
Kresge College currently showcases five murals. In a circle of life between artist, artwork, and the next generation of Kresge-dwellers, one mural each year is painted over with a new work of art. The murals often reflect this theme of perpetuation. This year’s contest submissions to determine the new mural design will continue the creative cycle.
“The work submitted [to this year’s contest] is definitely inspired by the existing murals at Kresge,” said Pam Ackerman, the college programs adviser for Kresge. “They’re very earth-driven, dealing with life and the relationship between the past and the present.”
The Kresge Mural Committee, consisting of Kresge students and college officials, issued applications in late January to all interested students. Artists have full creative license in their proposal, provided that their intended works have some academic link to the student or the theme depicted in the piece.
In mid-February, the Kresge Mural Committee will select the new mural design, giving the chosen artist a place in Kresge mural history.
The creative energy at Kresge is evident in the murals. Students view the mural project as an opportunity to express their talents and create a lasting testament to their time spent in a college that encourages participatory democracy, as well a sense of self-identity and human consciousness.
While a single mural may only last until others paint over it, the impact of that piece leaves its impression. Some want to see these older works stay intact.
“I feel that there are many available spaces around Kresge which can be painted,” said first-year Kresge student Nicholas Licari. “The mural that is going to be replaced is beautiful and [I think] making use of another wall in Kresge would be much more beneficial. I think it is wonderful that the college is allowing students to input their thoughts and ideas and think [how] making use of a blank wall would allow the expression of another to remain while a new masterpiece is unveiled.”
While some might find it ideal to keep all artwork up, Kresge College holds the right to replace or take down any mural in accordance with its rotating system, after notifying the artist first.
The Kresge College website referred to the project as “an essential part of building our community and as an opportunity to enhance the academic experience. As public art, murals may be held to a different standard than other art, including standards that apply to the public presentation of the college to students, their families and other visitors. No art that is derogatory or demeaning to any individual or group will be considered.”
The project is funded by the Kresge Parliament, which provides paints, brushes and anything else the artist might require. Continuing with the long-standing tradition, only Kresge students are allowed to apply for this project.
“I love the idea,” said first-year student and artist Veronica Ambrosini. “I suppose while [the project] doesn’t exactly preserve the history of these murals, it allows the artists to feel like they were part of something important. Big.”
A new mural will grace the Kresge College recreation courtyard walls before the end of spring quarter 2009.
“This is a part of a grand tradition at Kresge, and all of the submissions are quite good,” Ackerman said. “It should prove to be a pretty lively event.”
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