For its latest public art installation, Rice University decided to do something a little different from all the statues of owls and important people and science-related objects that decorate the campus, and instead commissioned local graffiti artist Daniel Anguilu to paint a mural on the side of Baker College.
Baker is one of Rice’s residential colleges (think traditional dorms/Hogwarts houses) and is also home to Houston’s longest running Shakespeare festival. As one of the more aesthetically pleasing residences, Baker is the one residential college visitors are directed to visit when taking a tour of their prospective campus.
Anguilu is well-known for his colorful, semi-abstract art, which began as illicit graffiti on exterior walls and freight trains and grew in popularity until he began getting paid commissions for his work. Today, he travels all over the world and participates in many public art and site-specific exhibitions.
At the end of the 2014 spring semester, Molly Hubbard, director of public art at Rice, contacted Baker College to propose a mural on another, less aesthetically pleasing portion of the building. Baker college masters Ivo and Rose van der Werff, along with then-college president Andrew Stout, wanted feedback from the students before they proceeded, so they sent out a poll to Baker students, who were overwhelmingly in favor of the idea. Students had several opportunities to meet with the artist to discuss ideas and suggestions, and in October 2014 Anguilu spent roughly two weeks transforming the wall from a badly-lit outdoor hallway into a colorful, fantastical space.
The mural is now a hip spot for selfies and gatherings on Rice campus and also highlights the university’s involvement in the art world and in the Houston community.