Students from Chapman’s graphic design program have collaborated to paint a new mural that will be displayed in the university’s Cross Cultural Center.
Over the course of the Fall 2022 semester, students in Graphic Design 329, the program’s new experimental course, have strived to bring life to the campus’s Cross-Cultural Center. GD 329 focuses on design approaches integrating interdisciplinary thinking and creative practices. Projects emphasize interdisciplinary investigations into design problem solving, print and digital methodologies, and how creative connections can be made using artistic practices, innovation and research.
Working off of that curriculum, professors Bernie Dickson and Rachelle Chuang connected the class with the Cross-Cultural Center, an inclusive meeting space where student organizations can hold meetings and activities, gather informally to relax, and build community. The combined course sections were invited to create a mural to be displayed on the third floor of Argyros Forum, as their signature project over the course of the semester.
In order to produce a finished product that reflected the vision of the students, the class recruited muralist Damin Lujan. Working under the artist name “Zaoone,” Lujan grew up inspired by the graffiti-style art that filled the streets of Santa Monica and Venice, Calif. Now, the bright colors of his murals can be seen lighting up streets around Orange County and Los Angeles.
To begin the mural design process, the students assigned to help create the mural first filled moodboards with inspirational images to share their own views regarding the diverse cultures and experiences of the student body. The students provided valuable input on how these ideals should be communicated in the mural. Taking the voices of the students into consideration, Lujan created the final design that would represent the Cross-Cultural Center.
New Mural Captures Chapman’s Cultural Diversity
Rather than attempting to represent all existing cultures individually, the final design of the mural captures the essence of global diversity through universal colors, shapes, patterns and simplified imagery. The overarching concept of the mural relies on the collective colors of multiple cultures coming together to form one cohesive design. “This represents me right now, as a ‘Zaoone’ mural, and the students,” Lujan states.
The main body of the mural features large-scale overlapping patterns that include motifs from traditional Asian, African and Native American cultures. It’s also largely inspired by various cultural textiles such as Kente stoles, Batik cloth and Latin Oaxacan textiles. These designs are accompanied by two large panthers at the end of each panel, along with “Cross-Cultural Center” written out to look like neon signage, as an homage to the 1969 StoneWall Riots in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Chapman Graphic Design Students Contribute to Campus Art
Once the design was signed off by Cross-Cultural Center director Araceli Martinez, the students, under Lujan’s guidance, painted the mural using spray paint — Lujan’s medium of choice. Prior to beginning, he led a spray painting workshop to get the students acclimated to the material, since many had never used it before. Though there was definitely a learning curve to getting accurate, even strokes with the cans of paint, the students were able to adjust fairly quickly and all ended up contributing in the final mural painting process.
Through several hour-long painting sessions, Lujan and the students were successfully able to bring the vision behind the mural to life. All that was left was for the final group of GD 329 students to develop materials to promote the mural and get the news out to the rest of the student body.
After a semester filled with planning, designing, and lots of revisions and hard work, in March the mural was installed outside the entrance to the Cross-Cultural Center in Argyros Forum. An official unveiling was held in April.
“The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion were honored to have the opportunity to do this mural project in partnership with Professor Dickson, Professor Chuang, muralist Damin Lujan and students from the GD329A Class,” said Araceli Martinez, Executive Director of Cross-Cultural Center and First Generation Programs at Chapman.
“The Cross Cultural Center welcomes all students as we strives to make our Chapman community aware of our rich diverse student population and create a sense of belonging by supporting and advocating for our students. Each individual’s perspective we hope can see themselves represented in this mural.”
Through this unique opportunity, the graphic design students were able to use their creative abilities to leave a lasting mark on the campus for years to come.