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The Morrill Science Stairwell Mural II

Litchfield, Sandy
Year Grant Awarded 2011

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The Morrill Science Stairwell Mural is a permanent wall drawing and mural at the University of Massachusetts Amherst commissioned by, the Biology and Geology Departments. UMass Art Professor, Sandy Litchfield, along with her Advanced Drawing Problems class created a stairwell mural depicting their interpretations of life and earth science. The main goals of this project were to foster a cross-disciplinary exchange between art students and scientists, to teach art students about the value and execution of public art, and to bring art into the traffic zones of the Science building.

In October 2010, representatives from the science departments gave a short presentation and overview of their work in Morrill using visual aids and a tour of the facilities. Students then hit the drawing boards as they appropriated and interpreted the images into their own drawings, developing them as studies for the mural. In November, the class executed their projects from floors 1 to 3 using paint markers and water based paint.

The 2010 Mural was so well received that in 2011 the Biology Department agreed to commission another mural with Sandy Litchfield and her Advanced Painting Problems students from floors 3 to 4. This mural was funded by a grant from the Puffin Foundation.

The mural reminds us not only of the ways that science can inspire creativity, but also of the ways that art can open our minds to explore new ways of seeing. There is a long history of engagement between scientists and artists. As observers of the world, both artists and scientists share a keen appreciation for the curious. Both discover as they inquire. Scientists expand our knowledge and appreciation for life, the universe and our place in it, helping us to make decisions about the way we live. It the artist’s job to remind people to be vigilant in this way, to reflect, to play, to invent and most importantly, to awaken our senses to the world around us.