Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Mural Artist to Speak at Middlebury College

February 1, 2006

Thursday, March 2, 7:30 p.m.
Twilight Auditorium

For immediate release: February 1, 2006
For further information, contact: Emmie Donadio, (802) 443–2240

Middlebury, VT — Matt Mullican, the artist who was commissioned to create the 25-foot by 74-foot mural that hangs in the atrium of the new Middlebury College library, will speak about the mural and his artistic process at 7:30 p.m. on Thurs., Mar. 2, in Twilight Auditorium, located on Rt. 125 on the Middlebury campus. An impassioned and engaging speaker, Mullican is returning to campus as a result of popular demand. His lecture is free and open to the public.

The mural, titled “L’Art d’Écrire” (The Art of Writing), is the result of a combined project of the Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America, maintained by the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York, and the College’s Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP). In 2003 a joint committee of the National Academy and Middlebury’s Committee on Art in Public Places publicly announced a competition for the commission of the mural. More than 70 artists were solicited to submit applications for the competition. Three finalists were selected from the pool of applicants, and Mullican’s design was selected as the winner.

For nearly three decades, Mullican has evolved a visual language that describes an imagined world, a universe of his own creation. Drawing from a rich vocabulary of images, many of which have roots in actual signs and symbols from the public realm, Mullican composes grids of information that can be both literal and evocative.

The artist’s visual language also includes a chromatic palette he has used since the 1970s. In addition to black, which represents language, his works employ the primary colors—red, yellow and blue—and, occasionally, green or white. For “L’Art d’Écrire” he has chosen to use black and yellow. Signifying “the world framed,” in the artist’s own terms, yellow provides a legible background for the artist’s adaptation and incorporation of imagery from a wide range of published sources.

Like his Enlightenment predecessors, Mullican shares an enthusiasm for anthologizing. Woven within “L’Art d’Écrire,” one can find references to a range of ideas that encompasses language, geography, history, the natural world, and the built environment. Among the recognizable images in this encyclopedic survey of world knowledge are alphabets of myriad languages, charts of the heavenly bodies, and some references to Middlebury itself. Mullican’s iconography places an emphasis on the world as perceived through the visual language of commonly accepted signs and symbols that his viewers can read. More broadly, the fundamental concept of the library as a locus of knowledge, research, and information resonates throughout the mural’s imagery and themes.

Matt Mullican was born in Santa Monica, Calif. He received the bachelor of fine arts degree at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, and has exhibited his work widely in the United States and abroad since the mid-1970s. Solo museum exhibitions of his work have been mounted in Basel, St. Louis, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna, Hamburg, Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., and New York. His public and corporate commissions may be seen at Akron University, Ohio; the National Institute for Academic Degrees (NIAD), Tokyo; Schiphol International Airport, Amsterdam; Miyagi University, Japan; Los Angeles Convention Center; University of Houston; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Swiss Bank Corporation, New York; and Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands.

For further information on the mural and the college’s Committee on Art in Public Places, go to http://go.middlebury.edu/capp.