UT Tyler art students bring nature to life with new biology mural

Published on Tuesday, 9 May 2017 00:08 - Written by CORY MCCOY, comccoy@tylerpaper.com

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A beetle the size of a cow has taken up residence in the Biology department at The University of Texas at Tyler.

The beetle is the largest component of a new mural gracing the halls of the college’s Biology, Education and Psychology building.

After seeing how well the mural at the Discovery Science Place came out, Biology Department Chair Dr. Srini Kambpampati approached Art Professor Alexis Hughes about having her students do a “species-scape” mural on campus.

The mural depicts species scaled by their abundance in nature, which is why the beetle representing bugs is the largest.

Kambpampati first approached Hughes about the collaboration nearly two years ago.

“I was waiting to have the right students,” she said. “Just knowing what we had in mind as the imagery, I needed specific skill sets.”

In January, Hughes selected three students to tackle the project. Lauren Pitre, Sam Edwards and Keri Fidone has spent the entire spring semester working on the project, from inception to conceptualization and finally completion.

Edwards said he was intimidated at first, but the mural has given him the confidence to begin working on a much larger scale than he is used to.

A DNA helix is used to tie together the various species and environments the students used, with Charles Darwin at its center.

Pitre said she was surprised to see how well she and her fellow artists complimented each other’s style.

“I think we surprised each other with how well we mesh,” she said.

Each day, students poured through the hallway as the mural took shape. As one element was put into place, others were shifted.

“Every week, almost every day, the design changed in response to how it was looking.” Hughes said.

Over hundreds of hours, the artists poured themselves into the painting, giving up evenings and free time to ensure the work was completed on time.

The finishing touches were put on the mural during final exam week. When students return this fall, they will be greeted by the majesty and diversity of nature.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory