Hear from the student who helped create a public work of art - Oct. 18, 7 and 8 p.m. - Geoffroy Hall

ISU architecture student, Evan Harrison, will present 'The Making of Campus Art' on Oct. 18 at 7 and 8 p.m. in Geoffroy Hall

Students at center of new public art mural in Geoffroy Hall

Ames, Iowa: When your mission is providing a home that helps Iowa State students be successful, how do you commission a public work of art that reflects your values?

The Department of Residence had the opportunity to answer that question as part of the Art on Campus Collection in conjunction with the construction of Geoffroy Hall.

“Students were the central focus throughout the discussion of the Geoffroy project,” said Kurt Earnest, Coordinator of Residence Life and Iowa Art in State Building Committee member. “They enter as individuals but immediately begin to form relationships that unite them with Iowa State University—its history and its future.”

The art selection committee chose internationally-acclaimed artist, Mickalene Thomas, to create a mural that would inspire the thousands of students that will call Geoffroy Hall, home, now and in the future.

“The ISU community welcomes people from all corners of the world,” said Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Residence Pete Englin. “Mickalene provided a unique opportunity because her contemporary work style has international recognition and appeal.”

Thomas created a 40-foot long collage mural comprised of panels that utilize different mediums such as clay, screen printing, paint and rhinestones.

When asked about designing the mural, Thomas said, “I’ve carefully considered the fact that students are coming from many different places in the world and how the interiors depicted in the collage will relate to people from various, if not all, walks of life.”

She went on to describe how the interior layouts and colors will be interpreted differently by each student based on their personal experiences and cultural backgrounds.

The Department of Residence committee took the artwork a step further by sending a student on a week-long internship at Mickalene’s Brooklyn, New York, studio to help create the mural. Evan Harrison, a former Community Adviser and architecture student was selected as the recipient of the internship.

“When I got to New York, I knew very little about the process or culture that lies behind the work of great artists,” said Harrison. “Working in the studio not only required a high level of craft and eye for detail, but also an ingenuity and robustness toward solving problems when they came up at a moment’s notice. For me, the piece is so viscerally moving because of the experience I had with Mickalene’s team in creating it.”

Harrison will share his experience as part of University Museums’ programming. The Making of Campus Art will be presented on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. in the Geoffroy Hall main lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

Iowa State's Art on Campus Collection boasts over 2000 public works of art. This project was part of the State of Iowa's former Art in State Buildings program. As such, a half of one percent was dedicated to public artwork. Geoffroy Hall was a $47.3 million project making the budget for the artwork approximately $240,000.