Have you ever walked through the tunnels at night and been creeped out? Or even during the day, for that matter? How about seeing the colours sharply during the day and wondering why some look like stale vomit?
Have no fear — you aren’t the only one.
The Arts Student Union (ASU) and the Environmental Students Society (ESS) are working collaboratively to make the tunnel between Modern Languages and Environment 1 look better by featuring student artwork.
Amber Keegan, president of the ASU, and Cai de Riddler, VP internal of the ESS, took some time to talk about the project.
The inspiration came to Riddler from students on campus.
“A lot of people on campus, mostly students, have expressed how ugly campus is, and I find that there’s been a huge lack of campus artwork, and a lot of student engagement is missing with respect to how we make our campus look,” Riddler said.
“We don’t have students do anything really artistic on the walls. We don’t really get a say in how the buildings are designed, and we also don’t have the ability to change, really, any aesthetic aspect of campus, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to spice up campus and maybe get students engaged in the design aspect of campus life,” Riddler continued. “I’ve been to Carleton a few times and their entire tunnel system [has artwork that] was designed by students. The students [at Carleton] pay a certain amount to their student council, and they can design it; and I thought ‘why not do it on a bigger scale?’ There’s this huge hallway between our two faculties that I was walking through and was like, ‘I really don’t like this.’ And it gets repainted every year, in the same colours. And I just thought, why not change it? We share it with arts. Why not have an awesome joint project?”
Keegan commented, “One thing we really wanted was something that would continue, so even if, say, five years from now the design is fading or isn’t relevant anymore, the ESS and ASU of that time can partner and do it again with the current students.”
“We realize the longevity of campus art isn’t forever so if there’s an opportunity for us to spark something, I think that’s really exciting. It’d be great to see new students have a degree of ownership on how their campus looks,” Riddler said.
Riddler added, “In EIT they have the periodic table on an adhesive film that is designed digitally and then applied to the wall. We’re trying to get in contact with the same company that did that. The purpose of having students design it and pay for it is so that it is our artwork that is being put up instead of the university’s; we really want the students to feel empowered by this.”
“And we wanted to do it with paint but with the way the tunnel is structured and the moisture, paint wouldn’t last very long at all. At least this way it will last a lot longer,” Keegan added.
The main idea of this project was to empower students.
“I think the important thing about this is, the project is a lot more than just putting artwork up, because to my knowledge at least, between our two faculties and two buildings and some of the other buildings on campus, students don’t really have any say in what goes on. Sometimes during orientation week we put up temporary instalments, or the engineering faculty is known for spray painting artwork around their buildings, and I think it’s just really exciting to see students engaged with something on campus. There’s some degree of say within our student societies and our offices, but oftentimes that’s only shared by our students. We want visitors, faculty, potential students to know the creativity that our students have and know that we’re more than a technological institution or a co-op-driven school or a school that has a reputation with ingenuity, being self starters. You know, we want people to know that we’re artistic enough to design a space for ourselves that we share. And that’s beautiful,” Riddler said.
Keegan added her goals for the project: “I would also say that not just people outside Waterloo but also the students inside, we sort of see Waterloo as like, several different schools. Each faculty is very separate. My big thing with this project is that it’s environment and arts. That’s a huge thing, two faculties working together.”
The deadline for submissions is Feb. 27 and submission details can be found online at https://uwaterloo.ca/arts-student-union/news/tunnel-mural-project.