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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Mural to celebrate UA Phoenix Mars Mission

    Photo courtesy of Alfred J. Quiroz
    Photo courtesy of Alfred J. Quiroz

    A group of students are creating a Mars mural for a UA building for class credit, but the project is behind schedule as the students learn the difficulties of creating public art.

    The mural, which will cover a 20-foot-by-60-foot space in the Phoenix Mission Building, 1415 N. Sixth Ave., was commissioned by the UA Lunar and Planetary Sciences Department.

    “”I thought it was a great idea,”” said Alfred Quiroz, a professor of art, who was approached with the idea by the department in August 2005. Quiroz was able to set up the class, the second mural class offered in Quiroz’s 17 years at the UA, for this semester.

    But before the wall can be painted, the students must jump a series of hurdles.

    Because the course ends in December, the students, who are three weeks behind schedule, are rushing to finish the mural.

    “”I’ve had to throw out my time table,”” Quiroz said.

    Approval for the mural design was handed down by the Public Arts Advisory Committee Sept. 14, but the students have had to work with Risk Management, Facilities Management, a scaffolding company and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration before they can start painting.

    Quiroz said students are ready to paint, but first they need to receive a scaffolding safety lesson from OSHA Oct. 2.

    Bobbi Gentry, a studio art senior, and Jennifer Kearney, a senior majoring in illustration and art history, said they and the 10 other students in the course are getting experience in mural-making, starting with the need to come up with the design.

    “”I had no idea how it was going to all come together,”” Gentry said. “”But it has been fun seeing all these different ideas take shape.””

    Each student is responsible for about 100 square feet of the mural’s design, Quiroz said.

    The approved design is an “”S”” shape that will combine images of what ancient Mars might have looked like, Mars – the mythological god of war – turning into a phoenix, the Phoenix Lander on the surface of Mars and other images that people associate with Mars, Kearney said.

    Kearney said the experience has taught her all the logistics that go into a public art project.

    “”The art seems to be the easy part,”” Kearney said.

    The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory gave the students a full tour of facilities and access to all Mars images to help them with design ideas.

    Gentry said she was impressed with an area called the “”pit”” in the Phoenix Mission building that has a mock Martian terrain and a replica of the Phoenix Lander in it.

    “”It is a little much to soak in at first, but it is really great,”” Kearney said. “”I have been learning so much about Mars.””

    Once the design was complete, the class was able to take the submission to the UA Public Arts Advisory Committee for approval. Quiroz brought the whole class to the meeting with PAAC so they could see the process of getting a mural placed on campus.

    The wall will require around 12 gallons of primer, 24 gallons of paint and 5 gallons of gloss. To catch up on some time, the students will roll out as much color as they can, Quiroz said.

    The project is being funded by the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Department from the NASA Mars mission project funds. Every NASA project has a percentage of the total budget set aside for public education, said Frankie Kolb, administrative associate for the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Department.

    “”We are collaborating with other colleges to get them involved also,”” Kolb said. “”Theater students are helping build a Mars landscape and collaborating with art students to give our building some extra spice.””

    Though they are scrambling to finish before winter break, they will at least finish before the Phoenix Mars Lander is sent off to Mars in August 2007. It will be the first mission to Mars since 2004.

    “”It is going to take time out of class on some weekends to finish on time,”” Gentry said. “”But if we stay as excited as we are now, we will get it done.””

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