Homecoming

Submitted by Natalie Blake Studios

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Client: Chabot College

Location: Hayward, CA, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team

Other

Cynthia Parker-Houghton, Nick Marchese

Artist

Natalie Blake

Natalie Blake Studios

Overview

We created an aggregate of ten ceramic tile murals around campus that shaped a unified experience for members of the Chabot College campus in Hayward, California. From dining hall to courtyard gathering places, administration buildings to the Performing Arts Hall lobby, the murals were positioned for students, staff and faculty to experience at least four or five of the eight murals on any given day. Each of our murals are created by individually hand forming, carving and glazing high-fired porcelain to produce a larger contiguous design.

Goals

The goal of this commission was to provide warmth and continuity to a large campus largely made of architectural concrete and stone buildings. The campus is home to 12,000 day and night students. They loved their school yet bemoaned their dire landscape of concrete and looming aggregate stone facades.

When we completed our tour we found so many places that needed warmth and attention, we were overwhelmed by the project scope. We narrowed and narrowed until we could create murals that would embrace eight large scale and one small locations around campus.

Our final proposal linked several vignettes of our art together to create one single installation proposal that linked “what we heard” and “what we saw,” with “what inspired us.”
Instead of denying their commissioned art to any one sector of the diverse school, we distributed the murals equally amongst faculty, administrative and student life areas, thereby equally honoring all facets of this multi generational, incredibly diverse campus.

We called this ensemble "Homecoming."

Process

Students, faculty and staff made up the design selection committee and interviewed the seven finalists from 622 applicants. We were asked to listen to the design ideas and desires of each segment of the Chabot campus population and create work around these needs. We heard the need for beauty, color, warmth, delight. Our challenge was to create this feeling wherever possible in all parts of campus.
What we heard:
“Give us BEAUTY.”
“Give us a feeling that we are in nature.”
“Remind us that we are HOME.”
“Delight us with color to brighten our day.”
“We want to give a welcoming gesture to our Hayward community members. “
“Don’t give us anything cliché.”

What we saw:
*The diversity of your student body, in age, religious practice and ethnicity.
*The need to put beauty in places where people gather.
*The need to connect the old and the new parts of the campus.
*The desire to reach faculty, staff and students alike so all can enjoy that beauty.
*The need to create permanent art that warms the heart, cools the nerves, while
inspiring the mind.

All members of the campus were ecstatic with our results. Our project manager Diane Zuliani was fantastic to work with.

Additional Information

Because budget didn't allow, we gifted the school a tenth work of art which (of course) ended up becoming one of our favorites--the Blue Ripple Mandala-- which we used here as our primary image. Why it was so successful wasn't known to us until after we finished installing it: the sun hits the building from behind thereby putting the work in shadow by morning. By afternoon the sun shines directly at the piece from the side, thus creating fantastic shadows as if the piece were doubled. Whallah!! Art and Nature working together. Success.