Something Bitchin' This Way Comes: Mural Project at UNT

UNT Mural Project Overview (Day 2, In Progress)
UNT Mural Project Overview (Day 2, In Progress)
gallery.unt.edu/exhibitions/id/865

We got word this week about an incredible project brewing out in Denton, headed by Blayre Stiller. You might remember that Stiller last lit things up back in April at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, during a Master's thesis exhibition called Blair Blayre with fellow UNT artist, Michael Blair.

As part of her graduate degree program, Stiller has honed her teaching skills, and she proposed and organized a class to be taught with co-instructor Giovanni Valderas called Topics in Studio: Mural Painting for UNT undergraduates. Over the course of the semester, Stiller tells us that the class explored the "history of muralism as well as the efficacy of murals as vehicles for social change and how public art is viewed by audiences as well as its patrons."

After a series of lectures and discussions, the class divided into groups to propose mural designs. Chosen through a peer jury, two designs were selected and the class was split into two groups, the aptly named "Team Group" and "Team Bonsai."

Stiller has been documenting the students' progress on a class blog, and she sent along a few of this week's most recent photos. The murals will be opened to the public during a reception on July 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Lightwell of the UNT Art Building on the first floor, and will be available for viewing through August 4.

For "Team Group," Stiller tells us:

They proposed a 3-dimensional design in all white that is being made in pieces and then applied to the wall. The class is in the process of creating the sculptural elements in Papier-mâché. The pieces will then be painted, mounted to a substrate, and applied to the wall's surface. The group talks about how the piece came about in a very natural and organic way focusing on feeling their way through the composition which was ultimately derived from a brush stroke.

One of Four Panels in the "Team Group" Mural
One of Four Panels in the "Team Group" Mural
Blayre Stiller/
"Team Group" 3-D design element in progress.
"Team Group" 3-D design element in progress.
Blayre Stiller

On the other hand, Stiller says about "Team Bonsai":

Focusing on themes of collaboration and the creative process itself, the group pulled together imagery that, in their minds, represented those ideas. The piece includes several elements from nature such as the large bonsai tree, giant pink fish, and a deep blue sky that indicate growth, fluidity, and freedom. Also prominent within the design is a wooden path or bridge leading into a large female face and an open mind.

"Team Bonsai" in early sketching phase.EXPAND
"Team Bonsai" in early sketching phase.
Blayre Stiller
"Team Bonsai" nearing completion.
"Team Bonsai" nearing completion.
Blayre Stiller

Check out the completed murals during the opening reception on July 5 and quiz Stiller and Valderas' students on why murals matter in 1,000 words or fewer.

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