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CFA Student Artist Turns Stairwells, Hall into Public Art

UROP project spruces up campus
by: By Rich Barlow

Think “political science” and you wouldn’t conjure up an image of an art gallery. But a stroll to the third floor of 232 Bay State Road, home to the College of Arts & Sciences poli-sci department, is a minicourse in art appreciation. On the wall hangs a carved reproduction of the University seal, its waterfront view of Boston depicting what Puritan John Winthrop celebrated as the “city upon a hill.” In a bit of artistic license, a peace dove is affixed to the seal, which also is surrounded by multicolored wooden rectangles.

Installed last August, the artwork and two others at the rear of the College of General Studies are the work of Alexander Golob (CFA’16, CAS’16), inspired by his freshman amblings across campus three years ago. At the time, he encountered what he considered a visual desert, devoid of appealing public art.

“I kept on imagining the concrete filled with vibrant color and dynamic forms,” Golob recalls, “spaces that, instead of just funneling people through them, lifted them up.” Shortly after those initial walks, and with the parking lot wall at the College of Fine Arts as his canvas, Golob picked up a paintbrush. With help from more than 80 volunteers, he painted the colorful cityscape mural you see there now.

“The response from everybody was immediate,” Golob says: student groups used the mural as a performance backdrop, the school scheduled events in front of it, and “there were no shortage of selfies.” Encouraged, he undertook last summer to fill in some of BU’s aesthetic blanks with public artworks through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, which matches students with faculty mentors across the University and provides funding for projects. CGS and the political science department are the beneficiaries. The piece on the CGS second-floor landing is a collage of geometric shapes of wood, metal, glass, and plastic. On the landing of the third floor are photos of young people mugging for the camera with various captions—“CGS Fam,” “Arrrrrrt,” “Boston Marathon April 20, 2015.”

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