Thursday, October 19, 2017

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Students in SDSU’s Sage Project and Lemon Grove community members painted a mural on the side of the Lemon Grove Recreation Center. (Credit: City of Lemon Grove) Students in SDSU’s Sage Project and Lemon Grove community members painted a mural on the side of the Lemon Grove Recreation Center. (Credit: City of Lemon Grove)
 


SDSU’s Sage Project Creates Public Art for Lemon Grove

An SDSU environmental graphic design class beautifies the City of Lemon Grove with a public mural.
By Katie White
 

San Diego State University’s Sage Project partnered with the City of Lemon Grove during the 2016-17 academic year, and the first results of the collaboration are now on display in the community. Students from Chris McCampbell’s environmental graphic design class recently installed a 10x16-foot mural on the side of the Lemon Grove Recreation Center.

Students designed the image of an oversized lemon being held up by about a dozen pairs of hands with different skin colors in front of a sunny sky.

“I try to teach my students not only how to deal with scale and application, but also how to visually communicate in public spaces, where social and political issues may affect their work,” said McCampbell. “I asked the students to sketch out ideas for imagery that reflected Lemon Grove's history and also spoke to its present and future aspirations as a city that is growing and undergoing transition.”

A mutually beneficial collaboration

After putting together several designs during the spring semester, students drew mock-ups that were displayed at the city's annual bonfire event. Once Lemon Grove residents provided feedback to the design students, the Lemon Grove City Council selected the winning mural and date for an installation.

“This kind of real-world project experience is a tremendous value to the students and allows them to see first-hand how these complex processes work from concept to completion,” said McCampbell. “The tasks that the Sage Project brings to the classroom also help encourage our students to do meaningful work for society.”

An estimated 30 volunteers, including Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez, joined the SDSU students for the mural installation. One of the students who helped design the winning mural called the public display of her work a “huge honor.”

“I find it important that we attempt to beautify the areas that may be lacking public art,” said Alexa Pettit. “Not only have we added aesthetic to the area, but we have also brought a community of people together who may not normally interact.”

One of many projects

The mural is just one of a number of projects students worked on during the year-long collaboration with Lemon Grove. Nearly 800 students from more than 30 classes tackled a variety of issues in Lemon Grove as part of their course curriculum and also applied the recommendations from a United Nations (UN) Habitat toolkit in their work with city officials.

The Sage Project was founded at SDSU in 2013 and is modeled after the Sustainable City Year Program created nine years ago at the University of Oregon. Both programs are members of the Educational Partnership for Innovation in Communities Network that aims to expand the partnership model internationally. In the past four years, more than 3,000 SDSU students have tackled multiple real-world projects in National City, redesigned two parks in Tijuana and worked closely with officials in Santee and San Diego to implement changes that support livability.

 
SDSU's Sage Project Creates Public Art for Lemon Grove
Students in SDSU’s Sage Project and Lemon Grove community members painted a mural on the side of the Lemon Grove Recreation Center. (Credit: City of Lemon Grove)