Mural dedication at U of U Heritage Center

Student Mural to be dedicated at Peterson Heritage Center on University of Utah Campus


February 2, 2013    3:00-5:00PM

The mural, titled Nexus, is a 25-foot by 30-foot acrylic painting in the Peterson Heritage Center dining room with striking imagery of nature, humans and the environment with a bright red apple at the top. The public is invited to join the University in celebrating the third mural in the building and to revisit the previous two works, completed in 2012, that were also created by students in the Art & Art History Department.

Nexus was created by the Painting Special Topics class lead by Associate Professor V. Kim Martinez in the Department of Art & Art History.


“This class gives students an opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom in a way that will be celebrated and enjoyed by students for years to come,” Martinez said. “This is my second class to paint a mural in the PHC dining room, and it has always been an amazing applied learning experience for the students.”


The student artists who designed the image include Kyle Odland, Cayley Rasmussen, Hailey Emerson, I-Hsi Fu, Lindsay Frei, Lindsey Howard, Whitney Kevern, Mikey Litizzette and Dawn Oughton.


“The concept behind the site-specific mural is a fusion of art, science and history,” said Cayley Rasmussen.  “It is about the elemental breakdown of everything that surrounds humans–from our food, to our environment, to the history beneath our feet. When all of these things are broken down into their compositional elements, the results are astoundingly similar. Take a human being and an apple.  Humans are composed of approximately 70% water, an apple contains about 75%; over 90% of the human body is composed of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen, and surprisingly, apples are as well. Using the apple to symbolize these comparisons elicits connections that cross the boundaries of different areas of study. Not only is an apple a source of nourishment, it references ‘the fruit of knowledge,’ Newton’s apple, and proverbial sayings like, ‘an apple a day…’”]

Above the apple is a depiction of a sequence of 60 carbon atoms, discovered by Buckminster Fuller, known as a “Bucky Ball.” The ball sits above everything, like the foliage of a tree raining elemental fruits and leaves upon the world below. The ground is an underground cross-section, complete with geological layers of Utah and hexagonal patterns that not only relate to cell structures, but act as a subtle nod to the Beehive State. The layers as a whole represent time passage, composition and decomposition, with brick figures, whose classical Greek style allude to the Peterson Heritage Center’s connection to the Olympics, deeply rooted in the heritage of everything that encompasses humans and the world.


“We have enjoyed watching this mural come to completion,” said Mark Morrison, PHC dining room director. “This space revolves around students and is a place where they meet to make lifelong friends while enjoying food together, and it’s great to see the space become a place where students can also explore their academic pursuits while others can witness the artistic process and watch the mural grow into a finished piece.”


The Peterson Heritage Center is the community hub to the 2,400 students that live on campus in Heritage Commons, which served as the 2002 Winter Olympic Athlete’s Village. The mural is located on the second floor of the building in the dining room, managed by University Dining Services, operated by Chartwells.


The process began with each of the student artists presenting their designs to the residents, who then had the opportunity to vote for their favorite.  “The mural is really fun, interesting and creative,” said one resident. “It captures a lot of what the University of Utah is about!”


The Peterson Heritage Center is located at 110 South Fort Douglas Boulevard, on the University of Utah Campus, Salt Lake City, UT 84113. Information about the Peterson Heritage Center and driving directions can be found at


More information on projects from the Painting Special Topics class and the Department of Art & Art History.