History of the Vision Mural

Due to the removal of the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Vision mural, The Lutrinae saw it fit to address the history behind it. The Vision mural we have now was completed in 2015. The current mural was painted in the location of the previous Signs and Symbols mural that held residency on campus for 11 years. The Signs and Symbols mural, painted in 2001, replaced the original Field Artillery mural that had been present since the days of Fort Ord. In mid 2013, the Signs and Symbols mural was removed, due to concerns of the presence of lead paint in the original Fort Ord Field Artillery mural that had been painted over.

The Signs and Symbols mural contained excerpts of CSUMB’s vision statement. “Envisioned… serving diverse people…” could be seen in a red ribbon across the majority of the mural along with other key phrases from CSUMB’s vision statement. The ribbon that was inspired from the original Field Artillery mural symbolized connecting the past of Fort Ord to the future of CSUMB.

The CSUMB founding vision statement written on Sept. 27, 1994 says, “CSUMB is envisioned as a comprehensive state university which values service through high quality education. The campus will be distinctive in serving the diverse people of California, especially the working class and historically undereducated and low-income populations. It will feature an enriched living and learning environment and year-round operation. The identity of the university will be framed by substantive commitment to multilingual, multicultural, gender-equitable learning.” These core beliefs were directly reflected in the Signs and Symbols mural that was created as a visual representation of the vision statement.

Many students, faculty and staff were outraged when the Signs and Symbols mural had been removed seemingly without the campus’s knowledge in 2013. The painting was sandblasted over summer break when students were away, due to toxic lead paint from the Field Artillery mural. The Field Artillery mural had also been surrounded in controversy when it was removed. However, more students, faculty and staff were behind the change from the Field Artillery mural due to the desire of integrating the campus from military to student friendly, and the promise of inclusion from the past mural moving forward.

“To connect this transformation [Field Artillery to Signs and Symbols], the mural will also include a restored military painting. The Field Artillery mural that lies on the same wall of the mural project is expected to be restored if funding is available. [Johanna] Poethig says that help from the University and the community is necessary to fund this project,” said Gabriela Lopez in an Otter Realm article from Nov. 14, 2001 regarding the Signs and Symbols mural being painted. However, the Field Artillery mural never received the necessary funding and was eventually completely removed with the Signs and Symbols mural in 2013.

Still today, students are upset about the removal and the repainting of the Signs and Symbols mural. On The Lutrinae’s Instagram page regarding our post on the removal of the current Vision mural, past students began commenting their opinions. “Didn’t it already get scrubbed and replaced a few years ago?!” commented Curtis McHenry, CSUMB alumni. “Knock it down. The new mural was a travesty anyway,” commented Jason Buchler, also a CSUMB alumni.

The Vision mural was originally criticized due to the lack of words present in the mural. Where the Signs and Symbols mural contained excerpts of the founding vision statement, the new Vision mural made the choice to let the images speak for themselves. “The centerpiece of the new mural is the compass. The compass symbolizes directions in life, and overlaps with an image of the globe, representing the world we all share, and situating CSUMB in the global arena. The currents that radiate out from the center across both sides of the mural are expansive as they illustrate the rippling effect we have on one another. In the layering of the composition, the easily perceived and hidden elements complement each other.

Ribbon Cutting of the Vision mural by President Ochoa in 2015. Photo courtesy of The Otter Realm.

“The lenses at each side of the compass magnify the values on which CSUMB is founded as we acknowledge the past and look toward the future. On the left is a reflection of the original Fort Ord military symbol that was the centerpiece of the wall. On the right, the lens is a camera, a telescope or beacon and through both lenses light shines through toward the sky of unlimited possibility,” from an explanation of the Vision mural provided by “The Vision mural, through a new lens,” a webpage on CSUMB’s Visual and Public Art’s Tumblr page.

However difficult it might have been to witness the removal of the Signs and Symbols mural, President Ochoa had this to say at the dedication of the Vision mural in 2015, “..some people will pause from their day’s routine and take the time to examine a part of the mural, or to linger over the full scope of it. They will come away with a fresh point of view about the history of this region, about our campuses role in the community and about the beauties that surround us at Cal State Monterey Bay each day. Those future Otters won’t be able to thank all the faculty and students who conceived and created a lasting celebration of our campus’s transformation. So I would like to say it for them. Thank you for your outstanding work.”

Editor’s note: The Vision mural series will continue. Stay tuned with The Lutrinae for more.

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