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Updated 2:30 PM April 12, 2006




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Student mural to splash walls of new USB with color

It begins with a table stacked with magazines and ends as a work of art. It starts in small classrooms in Alice Lloyd Hall and winds up in an open atrium in the new Undergraduate Science Building (USB). It begins with a strong focus on evolution, inspired by the LSA evolution theme semester. And, well, it evolves into a complex mural that may say something about the intersection of nature and technology instead.
LSA undergraduate Lauren Sullivan adds to the USB evolution mural. (Photo by Lin Jones, U-M Photo Services)

Students create small collages, which they reproduce on panels, 4'x4' and 4'x8', that are on walls, tables or floors. In an adjacent room, a nude model poses for other students.

Mark Tucker's class, Art in Public Spaces, offered through the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (LHSP), is a rigorous course. Yet, only one person in it this term is an art major. "It's my balance," says Gillian Goldberg, an LSA senior majoring in biological psychology. "A gift to me," adds freshman Tara Bionpally, who plans a pre-med concentration.

Tucker hopes he's turning out "life-long art appreciators" by allowing students to become artists for a semester—or more. Eight of the 24 students have returned to take the class a second time.

"Mark teaches us to ask who the audience is," says Michelle Dorman, a junior majoring in psychology. Her panel includes human skeletons and artificial limbs, her homage to evolving technology and how it changes the human body. "You could be missing an arm or have a robotic leg," adds Dorman, who has taken three classes with Tucker and is considering design or education as career options. Tucker has served as a mentor for both, creating a class that has given her a sense of freedom as well as an understanding of basic principles of art.

If students veer from a stated theme, that's OK. "Some people take the theme literally and some see it as a starting point," Tucker says. "The theme semester will come and go, but this mural will be there for years. What I want is a great piece of art on the wall."

LSA junior chemistry major Sung Hei Yau, points to his image of a monkey sitting on top of a factory making a brain out of smoke. "This ties in to evolution," he says.

Ariel Zipkin, a junior, double majoring in psychology and Hebrew, began with images from National Geographic and fashion magazines for a collage that suggests different aspects of nature. "You can see people, but nothing is concrete," she says. "It is whatever you want to make it."

LSA Honors first-year Suzanne Lipton's design suggests a subway system on an ocean with a pond, trees and a field. "Nature and modern technology seem to mix," she says.

"What's cool about this is that everyone does their own thing," says Lauren Walbridge, a LHSP first year. "We arrange it on a computer screen, and when we see unintentional similarities, we can bring them together."

From random magazine-inspired images filtered through individual imaginations, the panels and ideas begin to connect, evolving into a 25-by-25-foot unified work of art. An opening reception will be held 5-7 p.m. April 11 in the USB northeast atrium.

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