Work of art

Spinnaker

The mural on the outer wall of the UNF Arts and Sciences Building depicts an osprey nest with three eggs, but art is about more than just a bird. 

The piece is the first in a series of paintings comparing UNF students to developing ospreys, from eggs through maturity, the artists said.

Nofa Dixon, the painting’s organizer and a UNF art and design professor, said the eggs represent the UNF students who have just started their college journey.

Dixon, who has taught at UNF since 1994, chose eight students from special projects classes to work together and create the painting: Silvia de Araujo, Jonathan Byxbe, Christina Hampton, Christopher Hicks, Allison Phelps, Nicole Silver, Thomas Stillwell and Amber Williams.

Dixon said she specifically picked talented team players. She said she didn’t want competitive students working on the painting but rather students who would form a good relationship with one another.

Silver, a UNF English senior, has worked on previous pieces with Dixon. She said there was a bond with her fellow classmates during the mural’s creation.

“We all got really close,” Silver said. “We got to spend a lot of time together.”

Silver said she was initially apprehensive about the painting.

“It was hard to see the big picture before we started,” she said. “I was pretty excited with how realistic it turned out. I am excited to see it done.”

The painting itself was a three-credit-hour class project that lasted the entire Spring semester. A glaze was painted on top of the already-glazed surfaces of the ceramic tiles. Dixon said the mural is very detailed.

All of the students signed their names in various places on the mural. If viewers look closely, they will be able to find the names written in fine print.

The artists also painted a few inside jokes into the mural, which are difficult to find when merely glancing at the painting in passing.

“If you look really hard,” Dixon said, “you can see secrets in the painting.”

Silver said the painting has a whimsical air about it.

“It’s not just a nest with eggs,” she said. “It has a sense of humor.”

Silver said she believes the nest in the painting is a neat portrayal of UNF, since her classmates have started to refer to UNF as “The Nest.”

Byxbe, a UNF studio arts senior, said the artists didn’t necessarily have specific parts in the painting since they would all rework the tiles over and over again.

“There was a lot of give-and-take,” he said.

The students involved were grateful to be a part of the project.

“I felt honored to be included,” said Byxbe. “I’ll certainly take away the experience of doing the project. It’s something I won’t forget.”

Silver said she also felt honored and happy to create a work of art that would represent UNF.

Dixon said there will be two more paintings to continue the theme of growing ospreys, but she doesn’t know when these projects will begin. Right now, she is satisfied with the effort her students gave and the finalized painting they have to show for it.