First of three storm drain murals painted on campus to promote sustainability

First of three storm drain murals painted on campus to promote sustainability

First of three storm drain murals painted on campus to promote sustainability
May 03
16:54 2018

A UNT art contest from 2016 that intended to raise environmental awareness announced its three winners in March. A student painted the first of three murals planned to go on campus storm drains in mid-April as part of the Sustainability Storm Drain Artscape Design competition.

The artscapes are intended to be educational and raise awareness about the impact of littering and smoking on campus.

“There are ‘hot spots’ all around campus where cigarette butts and litter gathers,” Dean of Students Maureen McGuinness said. “Storm drains carry our runoff, untreated [water] directly to creeks that lead to the lakes that provide our water. Many people are not aware of the impact that they can have on water quality.”

Communication design freshman Chloe Trent painted the first contest mural on April 18 near Curry Hall on Mulberry Street and Avenue A. The competition chose three artists to paint three murals.

The university proposed the storm drain project in 2016, but it did not become a reality until spring 2018, McGuinness said. The other two murals are located by the Science Research Building and at Union Circle.

The goals of the project are to minimize litter and smoking on campus and to educate students about stormwater pollutants in a creative way.

Contestants submitted designs that corresponded to the theme and three artists were chosen to paint their designs on designated storm drains on campus. The contest winners received $250 funded by the We Mean Green Fund.

Trent heard about the contest in March 2018 during a conversation with a fellow Maple Student Housing intern. 

“I thought it would be a great opportunity and a good way to get a message out through visual communication,” Trent said. “After unexpectedly winning on March 16, along with two other female artists, I knew it was time to work on my storm drain. I viewed the contest as a blessing.”

Trent’s artwork incorporates two octopi circling around the storm drain opening, similar to the Pisces symbol with two fish, she said. Yellow fish, jellyfish and seaweed are also in the piece, and the message of the mural is based around aquatic life and ecosystems.

“Whenever litter enters a storm drain, it can affect aquatic ecosystems negatively and can pollute our waters,” Trent said. “Helping the environment inspires me. It will cause people to question what they throw away and where they throw it away. As humans, we need to remember that we only get one Earth, and we must treat it and its creatures with care.”

The drain murals have only been on campus for a short amount of time and have already caught some students’ eyes.

Visual arts and design junior Marisol Calixto said she thinks the drain murals are an amazing idea and can bring more awareness to the dangers litter can cause to our environment. 

“I feel like [Trent] really understood the effects of the damage that garbage is being ignored in the streets,” Calixto said.  “We seem to not care as much, but we start to notice it when we see animals die from our fault. This sends out a great message for us to start acting responsibly and [be] more aware of our surrounding, keeping this clean and start loving our planet.”

Featured Image: Murals encouraging “greener” lifestyle exhibited on a storm drain facing the Union on Earth Day weekend. TJ Webb

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Jacqueline Guerrero

Jacqueline Guerrero

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