The recently re-organized basement in Parish Memorial Library is now a little brighter, thanks to a freshly unveiled mural on one of the walls. 

“Arid, Mountainous and Roadrunner” was painted over the course of the summer by MFA student Robbin Lou Bates, who submitted the design to the Parish Memorial Library Mural Competition. It was Bates’ first mural of this size, and she says she’s proud of the work and the learning opportunities that came with it. 

“I planned out my drawing and projected it on the wall, but it didn’t fill the whole wall,” Bates said. “Learning to troubleshoot that and add additional things to fill the space was the biggest challenge.”

The mural is situated under a skylight, so the abstract block designs are flooded with natural light. The area works in favor of Bates’ style because, according to her instructors, she is inspired by space, geographical, historical and personal.

“She is inspired by and translates landscape, plant and animal life, childhood objects and nostalgic craft materials using a hard edge paper cut aesthetic,” said Raychael Stine, Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing. “And she playfully infuses her subject matter equally with as much sentimental, loving evaluation and treatment, as serious formal painterly exploration.” 

The Parish Mural Competition is the first of several to be held by the library. The next call for artists will be later in the fall. It’s an experience Richard Clement, dean of the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences, says benefits both students and the wider campus community.

“It gives them a real place to practice and perfect their art,” Clement said. “And it gives the community the pleasure of art. Art is very much a community act and it binds us together.”

According to Bates, now in her second year of the painting and drawing area of the MFA program, the competition is also a springboard.

“I definitely want to do more murals,” Bates concluded.

To see the mural, head to the south end of the Parish Memorial Library basement.