Bicentennial   |   arts

New Wright Quad mural unveiled at 200th anniversary dinner



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A new mural hangs Jan. 19 at Wright Quad dining hall. The Indiana University Office of the Bicentennial commissioned the mural. Karen Cheng

IU commemorated its bicentennial Monday in the Wright Quad dining hall with the unveiling of a new mural depicting IU from 1998-2020. The event drew a crowd of more than 500.

The mural was created by artist Caleb Weintraub, an associate professor of painting in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.

The new mural is an addition to a collection of seven others showing IU’s history from 1820 to 1998. The first six, painted by artist Garo Antreasian in 1957, depicted the history of IU from its founding until 1957. Artist Mark Flickinger created the seventh mural, which represents 1958 to 1998, in 1998 .

“In these public spaces, sculptures, paintings and other works of art not only beautify our campuses, but they also remind us of our shared history and inspire reflection,” IU President Michael McRobbie said at the unveiling.

McRobbie presented Weintraub with an IU Bicentennial medal in recognition of his work on the mural.

According to Weintraub, the mural includes famous IU athletes such as olympic swimmer Lilly King and basketball player Victor Oladipo alongside American jazz composer David Baker, Grammy award-winning opera singer Sylvia McNair, IU cognitive science professor Richard Shiffrin and biology professor emeritus David Dilcher. The faces of McRobbie and former presidents are also featured. The late Elinor Ostrom, an IU professor and Nobel Prize winner, appears as well.

Andrea Walton, campus historian and associate professor, led the campus history committee, which chose who appeared in the mural.

The mural also includes images meant to represent the current IU student population. A woman wearing a shirt with the quote, "The future is female" printed on the front, a man holding a rainbow flag and a person holding a sign that reads, "There is no planet B" are featured.

“I do think that it’s fitting that the event is taking place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Weintraub said at the event. “I think one of the things we were hoping to represent in the work was the university’s commitment to diversity.”

Weintraub also included places such as the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Luddy Hall, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in the mural.

“The artist was given a really difficult task capturing a really dynamic era of Indiana University’s history,” director of the IU Bicentennial Kelly Kish said.

Weintraub not only painted technology in the mural, he also used it to create the images. Before painting, he used a program called ZBrush to create a digital image of the mural. Weintraub said he decided to create this mural in an inventive way because Antreasian also used innovative methods in the original murals.

“That was kind of a unique project because that was the first use of acrylic paint in a public art project,” Weintraub said, referring to the original murals. “It was kind of novel in that way, and I wanted to introduce something novel again.”

In the spring, the mural will be compatible with an augmented reality mobile app, Weintraub said. Using the app, people will be able to hold up their phones in front of the mural and facts will appear on the screen.

Weintraub said it will also provide information about significant achievements from other IU-associated people that did not make the final cut of the mural.

“I hope that they find it visually exciting, and I hope it stimulates some curiosity,” Weintraub said of his mural.

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