Friday, January 13th marked the official unveiling of the large-scale urban art project, “ART 4 Aitken” at the Aitken University Centre at UNB. The large acrylic paintings presented in a mural format in the centre’s mezzanine was a collaboration between the final year Graphic & Digital Media Design students from our Fredericton campus. The students took five weeks, roughly 200 hours, and a rainbow of acrylics to create four large and unique visual expressions over 54 panels.
The project was arranged by Jean Rooney – Fredericton Graphic & Digital Media Design Department Head – who saw the project as a great opportunity for her students. She recently completed a mural project for the Aitken Centre herself and was so inspired by the experience that she sought out a similar challenge for her students.
“I knew it would provide an opportunity for real growth within their design work,” she said. “This was an exercise in getting them offline – away from Facebook and working face to face. This project required that they had to get real and transform a physical space graphically.”
Rooney herself is an award-winning visual artist whose contemporary artwork was purchased by UNB for its collection. She attributes the success of this project to both the watchful eye of the energetic and charismatic design instructor Jamie Bergin and Terry Oakes, the innovative new Director of the Aiken University Center, Fredericton.
The following is an excerpt of a letter received from Terry Oakes (Director of the AUC) after the unveiling of the artwork:
“When the students from the Centre for Arts and Technology approached me with the concept of painting murals for the Aitken Centre as a class project, I was ecstatic. Normally to commission artwork for public space is not within the operating budget of an ancilliary operation and a lot of times the work of budding young artists goes unnoticed.
Since the artwork was installed, we have received many comments from visitors on how intriguing the abstract murals are and how they brighten up the space. When I observe people walking around the mezzanine for exercise, I can see the wheels turning in their heads as they try to figure out what the artists were thinking or perhaps relating to something in their own lives and triggering an emotion. This would be similar to trying to figure out the meaning of songs by Bob Dylan who just happened to perform here in the spring of 1997 and one of the hundreds of musicians that also poster the walls of the mezzanine.
These are not the first murals to brighten the walls of the Aitken Centre. Last February, Jean Rooney painted a mural to honour hockey fans who brave the cold twice a week to cheer on the number one team in the country. This new series of murals will compliment the fantastic work painted by Jean and is a way to pay back those patrons who support special events.
The students (Artists) of the Centre of Arts and Technology have truly unlocked their initiative and creative potential on this project and I believe the visual stimulation of the murals will greatly enhance the visitor experience at the Aitken University Centre. I wish all the best to these creative young students and thank them for such a wonderful job.”