June 22, 2018

Art for Science Mural Project

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a national science advocacy organization, recently awarded grants of up to $10,000 to six organizations and artists nationally to create public artworks that highlight the importance of science in line with the goals of the Science Rising movement.

Resident Arts is one of the recipients of this grant and will complete the production of a large-scale mural on the MKT trail underpass on Elm St. (previously the retainer wall on Old 63, south of Broadway) in partnership with the city’s Office of Sustainability, Department of Parks and Recreation, and The Hinkson Creek Restoration Project. The collaborative community mural process began in July and will culminate in a Public Unveiling Event. Through this process a team of 5 artists will work to create a design, receive community feedback, and produce the mural which will align with the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), and showcase the science-based actions that individuals can take to participate in the initiatives discovered through the planning process which is taking place simultaneously.

Funding from the UCS will cover the costs of hiring a mural team, materials and supplies for production of the mural, and promoting the community events associated with its design and unveiling.

Interested in volunteering? If you’re interested in donating some time, contact madeleine@residentarts.org.

Proposed Design:

The fifth iteration of this design incorporates changes from our Community Feedback Session held on August 8th, and feedback from our partners collected on August 10th, as well as a re-organization to fit its new proposed site.


“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan

The proposed design highlights the importance of science throughout our daily lives. Through discussions with our partners and working together as a design team it became apparent that the work of science is everywhere, that it permeates our daily lives in ways we do not often think about.

The city of Columbia’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, in its beginning phase, has already identified several areas where our city is most vulnerable to changes in our climate. Housing, transportation and stormwater management top the list, quickly followed by water supply and open space/agricultural space. Our design moves through a scene showing the different touch points of these vulnerabilities and highlights specific facts about how individuals in Columbia can reduce their carbon footprint.

The scene begins at the creek, a site directly adjacent to the mural wall, where environmental scientists are collecting water samples, observing the creek’s invertebrates, and testing sediment showing both science at work, and the importance of the creek in our city’s ecosystem. The scene then moves into a neighborhood with houses sporting rain gardens and rain barrels, a woman weatherizes her windows as a neighbor installs solar panels on his roof, fact bubbles will give information about what people can do in their homes and neighborhoods to reduce their impact and ensure our water supply is kept clean.

Beyond the neighborhood a teen skateboarding, a mother jogging with a stroller, people biking, and a walking school bus all demonstrate alternative forms of transportation. The Go CoMO bus drives us into a city street scene with walking commuters, throughout this section will be facts about the carbon emissions of vehicles and how using alternative forms of transportation reduces our overall carbon footprint. The city scene moves into the interior of an office building showing people at work and on their breaks, facts will demonstrate what people can do at work to reduce waste. Recycling and compost bins will be present in the break rooms and where appropriate throughout the office.

Out of an office window, a community garden and people planting trees will give way to tomato crops and a farm to provide stats about agricultural emissions and what we can do to reduce our footprint by eating locally, planting trees, and engaging in sustainable farming practices.  

Beyond the farm, and returning to the creek, people fish and float participating in outdoor recreation. The imagery spans the home, work, and recreational lives of Columbian’s highlighting the vulnerabilities identified in the CAAP plan and what we can each do to combat them.

The design exists within the type of a quote by famous futurist and new media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew.” The quote suggests we must do the work, and be responsible, for our one and only home. 

Behind the quote as a backdrop are graphic and geometric shapes, spotted with windows into space scenes which visually drive the quote home. On the far right of the design will be a description of the project, credits for the quote, artists, partners, and the partner logos.

The images inside the quotes are placeholders to show the content we’re proposing, some changes in the exact positioning, the gender or race of individuals, or their clothes/protective gear will likely change to ensure that the scene flows together properly, a diverse population is represented, and safety is demonstrated throughout the mural.

No portion of this design was mandated by the funder. The entirety of the design was conceived and prepared by Resident Arts’ artist team using our collaborative community mural making process. This process includes information gathering and research, community feedback, community painting, and public unveiling.

Any and all inquiries about this project should be directed to Madeleine LeMieux: madeleine@residentarts.org | 573.303.7195

To help show your support for this project you can:

Attend the city council meeting on October 1st, and voice your support for the project during the public hearing. You can find out more here.

Call your city council representative, and voice your support for the project. You can find their contact info here.