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Bringing Art to Life

Students led by Patricia Cue are painting benches to make art more visible at SDSU.
A student paints her design on one of the 19 benches chosen for beautification.
A student paints her design on one of the 19 benches chosen for beautification.

When you walk through San Diego State University, the beauty of the campus is undeniable.

The university aims to make art as much a part of SDSU as its architecture and natural beauty.

To that end, a university-wide arts visibility initiative is being launched to build a culture of arts on campus. The initiative aims to increase student, faculty and staff awareness of arts events and opportunities at SDSU.

One of the first aspects of the arts visibility initiative is the bench project. Students painted 19 benches on the Performing Arts Plaza — the area between the Music Building and the Don Powell Theatre — bringing art to life at SDSU.

“We enjoy seeing an element of campus that isn’t a part of the university’s brand,” said Patricia Cue, the SDSU graphic design professor whose students designed the benches. “The designs represent the people of SDSU.”

Reflection of the university

Cue's students submitted 26 designs of which 19 were selected. Students then participated in painting the chosen designs.

“What comes out of this is a reflection of the university,” Cue said.

Robert Felizardo, a graphic design major, channeled his love for complex patterns into his design.

“For my design, I've always been drawn to patterns, whether it is a simple chevron or an intricate piece with multiple colors, so I wanted to extend that into my bench design," Felizardo said.

“My design was meant to become more intricate near the seat to sort of represent the schedule of college students — freshman year is simple, but once you get to your senior year, your classes begin to get more complicated and hectic.”

Art through observation

Cue instructed her students to take an ethnographic approach to the designs.

The students spent time observing the Performing Arts Plaza where the benches are located and watched how they were being used. They concluded that most people weren’t utilizing the space, and instead hurried to class.

The lack of use begged the question; How can you make students stop and use the benches?

The students answered by providing the selection team with thoughtful, colorful designs inspired by the campus and the SDSU community.

Cue and Felizardo envision students using the benches to stop, relax and appreciate the beauty of the campus.

“I think it's important to have art throughout the campus because it serves as a reminder that art is everywhere —  it's not just on a canvas in a museum or online, it's everywhere and anything,” Felizardo said.

About the initiative

The arts visibility initiative, which officially launches in the spring, is already underway. In addition to the bench project, several pop-up performances have taken place in the library dome and at the farmer’s market, beginning to infuse art and culture into everyday life at SDSU.

A website will launch shortly, with more information including a calendar for all of the arts events happening on campus.  

Make sure you use and follow the hashtag #ArtsAliveSDSU if you're on Twitter.  

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