UToledo Art Students Commissioned to Create Library Mural

Eye On Art  |  01/29/2020 4:00 pm

Two University of Toledo art students are currently creating a mural on the second floor of Carlson Library, near the Starbucks Coffee. Donna Beauregard is a senior majoring in Fine Art (2D) and minoring in Art History and Psychology, and Robert Gilsdorf is a senior majoring in Fine Art and minoring in Art History.

The University Libraries commissioned the mural as part of its Experiential Learning program. Dave Remaklus, Director of Operations for the University Libraries, explains, “Our program enhances the educational curriculum, offers a valuable learning experience, and gives the students an opportunity to earn an income while fulfilling a library need. These learning experiences allow students the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and expand upon it in a supportive and educational environment.” This is the second mural project on which Carlson Library has collaborated with UToledo Bachelor of Fine Art (B.F.A.) students. This mural, as was the previous one, was proposed to the students with the request that the work have a higher-education theme. The artists were free to choose the subject(s), color scheme, materials and method. The library found it important to give the students the artistic freedom to come up with their own representation of the student experience at UToledo and communicate it in their own way. Dave Remaklus, director of operations for the University Libraries, charged the students to prepare a design pitch for their idea to present to library administration.

Gilsdorf says, “Ever since the design pitch, the staff has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. From giving us insights to showcasing our independent works, the staff always seems to be looking for ways to help.”

Beauregard and Gilsdorf chose to create a mural which utilizes layered wheat pastings and acrylics, like a large-scale collage. The artists intend the untitled 40-foot mural to be viewed as a representation of the student experience at UToledo and how students interact with both the university and local community.  The background displays cooler color abstracts of buildings with wheat pastings of warmer color paintings of recognizable buildings on campus, and local landmarks like the Toledo Museum of Art, the Art Tatum Residence and several buildings from the downtown area. Finally, the artists will overlay the buildings with images of students and community members, showing how they engage with these spaces.

“We are manipulating and overlapping UToledo buildings and buildings downtown to show that we are part of both. The mural is a hybrid of the University and Toledo area communities,” says Beauregard. “It has been such an awesome experience getting to collaborate with a fellow student and friend on such a large-scale piece. I was nervous at first about creating something so large and was doubting my abilities, but every day we worked on it I got more confident and I am proud of what we are creating.”

Beauregard and Gilsdorf are especially proud to be working on a piece for the University outside the classroom and traditional curriculum. Gilsdorf explains, “It does help when you are working with such a great partner, but our growth throughout this mural has been monumental. The skills we have learned are something very few classrooms can teach.”

Both also say the UToledo B.F.A. program and their faculty have been instrumental to the success of the project and to them as artists. Beauregard says, “The faculty in the program are very supportive and it’s because of them that I get to have opportunities like this mural. My experience in the B.F.A. has been nothing but growth. It really encourages me as an artist to push my own boundaries and to continually evolve my work.”

“Our faculty is second to none,” Gilsdorf says. “Each professor is highly skilled in their given field and will stop at nothing to ensure your progression as an artist. Their dedication is imprinted onto their students and I am very proud to be a part of the art program here.”

Art Department Chair Barbara Miner says she is very proud of the students and the work they are doing. “Donna and Robbie have set the highest bar for themselves and are outstandingly invested and creatively inventive students with an amazing work ethic.  We are proud to have them representing the department and our programs and we are grateful to the Carlson Library staff and administration for their continued, visionary support on behalf of all of our students.”

Beauregard and Gilsdorf began work on the mural last fall and will complete the work by the end of this semester. The in-progress mural can be viewed any time Carlson Library is open. For library hours, visit https://www.utoledo.edu/library/info/hours.html.