“The owl of Minerva takes flight only when the shades of night are gathering.”
This metaphor from German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right” was the main concept behind the mural located on the fourth floor of the center building, conceived and implemented under the Social Sciences Education and Art Project.
During the winter term of 2013, each student from Lane Community College’s Designing Arts for Public Places class was assigned to make his or her own project idea for the mural. Former LCC graphic design student, Nick Seigrest’s idea was chosen by the Social Science Division from the 16 entries. Seigrest believed Hegel’s philosophy was the one that best captured the flavor of the social sciences.
“Hegel, 18th century philosopher was the first to talk about social science; it was Nick who decided that it would be a good start for the concept,” Psychology instructor, Micah Cordova said. “The idea was to bring social sciences together as a culture and everyone would know when they come up here that this is the Social Science Department.”
Another main feature of the mural is an abstract protest. “Social science can’t really exist without people,” Graphic Design Art instructor, Tom Madison said. “We wanted it to be about a protest which you cannot read, as it is abstract; it represents all gatherings of people who have formed together to make a change in the society.”
The second mural painting class was held during the winter 2014 term. Students then added more ideas and modifications to Siegrest’s design. By summer 2014 term, students had begun painting the design on the walls. After the term ended, volunteers from the class and members of the public collaborated to complete the job. By the beginning of fall term, students and staff were welcomed by a vibrant and colorful mural right in the heart of the Social Science Division.
One of the highlights of the mural is the face of an owl. In ancient Rome, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom. Her companion was an owl, which was traditionally regarded as being wise. “Art needs to have a different meaning to everyone who walks by it; the viewer can form their own opinion and interpretation,” Madison said. “It is related to social science because our interpretation of Hegel’s quote and the symbol of the owl shows that knowledge is something that is obtained in a retrospective way. It shows knowledge and learning in this specific Western academic environment.”
The social science and art divisions are planning on scripting vinyl typed quotes by famous social scientists, such as Yi-Fu Tuan, on the bottom line of the mural. They plan to fully complete this project by the end of fall.
“From the students’ point of view I think it has been very positive, I know from the staff we have been overjoyed with the success of this. People have been wowed by the students who’ve worked on this and it’s not even complete yet,” Geography instructor Jane Benjamin said. “I think every art has emotion and different meaning behind it and this art was really important because it was done from a student project.”
Full disclosure: Torch staff member Nicole Rund was involved in the mural project.