Travel down Inter-Garrison road on the CSUMB campus and it’s impossible to miss the explosion of color and vibrant imagery. Take a look. Study the layered composition. Notice the easily perceived and hidden elements that complement each other. It tells a story.
Students have completed much of the work on the mural along Inter-Garrison Road and Fifth Avenue, across from the Visual and Public Art (VPA) complex. The original Signs and Symbols mural that graced the wall for years was removed in January of 2014 to abate lead in the paint. During the spring 2014 semester, Professor Johanna Poethig’s painting and mural class, along with alumni muralists and faculty members, designed a new mural to replace it. Poethig’s students, along with students in Juan Luna-Avin’s painting and mural class, have worked steadily since to bring the project to life.
According to the VPA students who worked on the project, the centerpiece of the new mural is the compass. The compass symbolizes directions in life, and overlaps with an image of the globe, representing the world we all share, and situating CSUMB in the global arena. The lenses at each side of the compass magnify the values on which CSUMB is founded, acknowledging the past and looking forward. The currents that radiate out from the center across both sides of the mural are expansive as they illustrate the rippling effect we have on one another.
On the left is a reflection of the original Fort Ord military symbol that was the centerpiece of the wall. From there, the compass and lens are symbols of sports, hemispheres, humanities and a color wheel. The sun shines on Monterey coastal cypress trees. The trees reach out over a circuitry of technology and ancient iconographies.
On the right, the lens is a camera, a telescope or beacon and through both lenses light shines through toward the sky of unlimited possibility. The mural then transitions into a kaleidoscope of natural flower images. The symbol of the acorn represents the natural and historic landscape. The musical measure resonates across culture and turns into kelp flowing through the currents incorporating the natural habitat and marine sanctuary of Monterey Bay.
According to Poethig, the updated mural reflects on the vision of the university and draws upon the old design. "You don’t want to forget your history, but you also want to look toward the future," she said.