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Mural, mural on the wall

A student’s creative vision brought to life

Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 19:10


Courtesy of Sarah Miller


Courtesy of Sarah Miller


Courtesy of Sarah Miller

When challenged to express creativity and inspirational ideas, many people are afraid to. UMBC’s Student Government Association holds a competition each school year, called Prove-IT, that challenges students to come up with an idea that can improve UMBC’s campus in some way.

Ganna Vikhlyayeva, a senior animation major, had an inspiring idea for Prove-IT’s 2012-2013 campaign. She wrote up a proposal to do a mural for the Biological Sciences building. After walking by the building day and night, Vikhlyayeva was drawn to the large white walls in the first floor hallways that face the outside in the biology building.

She thought the “unused space [detracted] from the look of the building.” Given her artistic talents, she wished to project her vision onto the blank canvas.

About a year and a half ago, Viklyayeva began working on the project with the biology department’s photographer, Tim Ford, as well as Christopher Wells, the building’s facility manager. She worked on the mural for about a month before presenting it to the biology department.

To initiate the design process, Viklyayeva requested that the biology faculty and students submit posters that define science and that incorporated color, value, line, texture, shape, form and space.

When she received the various posters, she saw “how beautiful biology is.” She was also moved by the images of what is seen under the microscope, and realized how “our world and the beauty of science [are] very impressive.”

To complete the mural, she used Photoshop to merge the images into one. The mural was approved and funded by the chair of the biology department, Philip Farabaugh.

According to Wells, who worked closely alongside Viklyayeva on the project, the mural was an opportunity to “add more aesthetic to the department.”

Wells said, “The hardest thing to establish was putting together a committee to represent the project.”

Viklyayeva and Wells were able to work with Miriam Tillman, Assistant Vice President for the Office of Institutional Management, Vin Grabill, Chair of the art department, and Joe Rexing, Associate Director of Construction and Planning.

Wells was sure to mention the important role Rexing had in assuring that the “piece was appropriate and that [it] had elements pertaining to UMBC.”

In order to translate her digital masterpiece onto the actual canvas, Viklyayeva used a projector to paint the figures onto the wall and drew the smaller, more detailed images by hand.

Although a majority of the mural has been painted, she does plan to continue designing and adding to it.

In the hallway of the colorful mural, furniture has also been donated, which Viklyayeva says provides students with a “much more comfortable and friendly” feel.

After creating the mural for the Biological Sciences building as well as the one in the Office for Undergraduate Admissions, the chemistry and geography & environmental systems departments have contacted Viklyayeva requesting that she work with them in the future.

There will be a ribbon cutting event on Friday, Oct. 25 at 10 a.m., where Viklyayeva will formally present her mural. UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski III, Ph.D., has been confirmed to attend as well.

During her summers, Viklyayeva teaches animation to less fortunate children in Moscow at Russian schools. She believes that “to illustrate is to enlighten.” 

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