Art school students paint a cosmic mural in the Bayou building – UHCL The Signal

Two astronauts are floating in space. As their ship pulls away from them, beautiful waves of color shoot out from the astronauts’ brushes, creating a veritable colorful galaxy. This is the subject of the mural that the UHCL community will now see as they enter the Bayou building and pass the sidewalk cafe.

This mural was painted as part of one of UHCL’s summer art class who are supervised by David Moya, director of the UHCL art school and clinical assistant professor. The class, taught by Waco teacher Hope Gereghty, spent a week painting the mural in June.

The mural is in the Bayou Building, located after the Patio Cafe. Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.

The seeds for the mural were planted when Moya asked Gereghty if she would like to teach the week-long mural course.

“David and I met at [Texas Art Education Association Conference]said Gereghty. “He told me about the summer program for kids and I told him about my mural process. We decided to schedule a time to collaborate to share our knowledge.

Moya sought to create a painting that captured the spirit of UHCL.

“Astronauts as artists represent this connection between the STEM departments and the arts departments at UHCL,” Moya said. “We decided to use very bright colors to pay tribute to the fact that UHCL is an institution serving Hispanics.”

Once the idea was discussed and finalized, Gereghty made the sketch that would become the mural.

PHOTO: The image shows a sketch painted on the wall.  The mural shows two astronauts with paintbrushes.  Bright colors flow from the paintbrush throughout the space.  Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.
Once the ideas were discussed and finalized, Gereghty made the sketch that would become the mural. Moya had the initial concept ideas for the space and Hispanic heritage, and Gereghty created the sketch based on the ideas. Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.

“David had the initial conceptual ideas for space and Hispanic heritage, and I brought them together in a composition,” Gereghty said.

For Gereghty, the best part of seeing the mural come to fruition was letting the students play their part in painting a public mural.

“It’s always quite wonderful to see the empowerment of young students as they begin to step back from a mural project to see their hand in a public installation,” Gereghty said. “In most cases, they have not been entrusted with such a large composition, and friendships are cultivated in the process.”

Gereghty’s sentiment is part of the advice she constantly gives to her students.

“I always urge students to step back to see the bigger picture when making technical decisions,” Gereghty said. “I treat each collaboration as if a client commissioned it and the students are the artists hired so they can take their personal preferences away from the work. This is a major skill in the arts services industry.

A closer look at the mural reveals an array of pop culture references, including several spaceships from Star Wars and Star Trek.

PHOTO: The image depicts the painting of the Starship Enterprise.  Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.
Students were allowed to paint their own pop culture references as signatures. This included a Starship Enterprise from Star Trek. Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.

Moya and Gereghty said references are encouraged as a way for students to leave their mark and express their creativity more.

“They weren’t planned, but were a welcome ad-lib from the students themselves,” Gereghty said. “They quickly became as important as their signatures.”

These signatures included a TARDIS from the Dr. Who franchise, painted by eighth-grade student Evangeline Gable.

“The walls are all white in my house,” Evangeline said. “I’ve always wanted to paint them. My room is covered with my art. My mother only lets me paint my bedroom and the hallways and on the doors first. So it was fun to paint something white. I would say why wouldn’t you paint a TARDIS in one space scene, but why wouldn’t you paint a TARDIS in every scene? I put it in many of my paintings as an easter egg.

Gable enjoyed the experience.

“I really, really liked it,” Gable said. “It was the best class ever.”

Moya said he was satisfied with the work and believes that his goal has been achieved.

“In my mind, we were just trying to think of something new for the kids to do,” Moya said. “I imagine they will eventually paint over it. When it comes to public art spaces, you can’t get married to these works because they can be replaced very quickly.”

PHOTO: The image shows a space painting featuring a TARDIS from the Doctor Who franchise.  Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.
Evangeline Gable’s painting of a TARDIS from the Doctor Who franchise was one of many pop culture references painted on the mural. Photo by The Signal editor Troylon Griffin II.

Although the mural does not remain permanently on the wall of the Bayou Building, Gereghty said she is still proud of the work done in the project.

“The mural needs to be repainted, but I don’t mind that at all,” Gereghty said. “An artist must embrace the process and our ever-changing environment. I am proud to have a small part in starting a tradition of student empowerment through large-scale murals at such a wonderful institute of learning. It was a pleasure to work with David and I am so grateful for what he taught me about the summer camp and after school program he worked so hard to put together.

Kayleen C. Rice