Student-Designed Mural Teaches Teamwork and Columbus History

Columbus State University students are blending Columbus history, school spirit, and art as they create a new mural for the exterior of the Davidson Student Center.

“Murals are about collaboration and merging ideas together,” said Gabriel Villa, CSU’s Amos Visiting Scholar who is leading the project.

Villa’s class, Mural History and Practice, spent the first part of the semester on the design and are now painting the 85-foot mural on the wall. After months of collaboration, the design includes river, railroad, cougars, and the inner workings of CSU’s iconic clock tower. Each feature symbolizes an element of CSU’s history, present and future.

“There will be three cougars that move from realistic to abstract, which represents how we’ve made CSU our own over the years,” said Sydney Flatt, a studio art transfer student in her first year at CSU.

“The wave represents the river and how it helped the city,” explained Zoemy Barreto, a senior majoring in fine arts. “And the mosaic elements are to represent the church, since Columbus has a lot of churches.”

“The half mandala was inspired by Pasaquan,” added Rachel Ware, a junior majoring in art history, pointing to a colorful semi-circle arching over a door way.

While each student identifies with a different aspect of the mural, they all agree that teamwork was essential to the project.

“It was helpful, because after college, we’ll have to know how to listen to others and work together,” said Flatt. “A lot of group projects in college have a correct answer, but this doesn’t. It is all about creating something new as a team.”

Villa’s class will continue painting the mural through the end of the semester. They meet every Friday afternoon, but are accepting volunteers to help throughout the week.

“It’s bringing a lot of people together,” said Ware. “People walk by, see it, and ask about it. They like it, so they just start painting. The paint will last 20 years, so it is really an opportunity for us to leave our mark.”

Students interested in volunteering to paint should contact Villa at