Blank space transformed by colorful Vancouver mural

Vancouver Campus mural

The new campus mural shows scenes of a vibrant downtown Vancouver. (Photo by Jobin Mojtabavi)

By Kenna Caprio

May 31, 2017 The city is the campus. The city is the art.

At the back of the student lounge on the Vancouver Campus, there was, until recently, a big, blank wall. It looked stark — that is, until artist Steve Hornung of Creative Individual painted a large and colorful mural of the city on it.

Jobin Mojtabavi, director of student services, and David O’Reilly, director of learning and support services, commissioned the wall art, with input from students.

Hornung’s design features buildings and nature. “There’s BC Place Stadium and Science World, with water between them,” says Mojtabavi. “The idea was to reflect significant buildings and spots near the campus.”

“It’s an urban setting, in the middle of a green rainforest, mountains and the sea. We’re surrounded by nature,” says O’Reilly. Another prominent element of the mural is a totem pole, which represents First Nations people. In the early days of the campus, a local Canadian staff member commissioned a talking stick from the Squamish, an indigenous people. “It’s now used at all of our commencement ceremonies, and whoever holds it has the right to speak,” adds O’Reilly.

Vancouver students smile in front of the muralThe mural showcases Vancouver culture and climate, evocative of the atmosphere, feel and energy of the city.

“There are no windows in the student lounge, so you can’t look outside,” says Mojtabavi. This art is “a way of bringing the outside in.” Lately, he says, he’s been finding more students taking selfies and group photos in front of the mural.

The mural has become a popular photo spot. Here, graduates (L to R) Alexandra Mosquera Salazar, MAS'17; Büșra Karaman, MAS'17; and Klaudia Wisniewska, MAS'17, hold and wave international flags, with the mural as a backdrop.
(Photo courtesy of Karaman)

The artist’s attention to detail really impressed Mojtabavi. “He put raindrops on the buildings. I really like those little touches. It made sense to employ a local artist who understands Vancouver as a city and as a culture.”

The project took ten days to complete, with Hornung and his team working over a weekend, so they could easily move furniture and work without disturbing faculty, staff and students.

“Everyone who comes to campus, they’re always impressed with the quality of the structure itself, and the detail that’s gone into making the campus a livable experience for the students. This has just added to that,” says O‘Reilly. “It’s a very lovely thing to see when you walk in each morning.”