As Metro Gold Line commuters reach the terminus of the newly extended rail, they are met by an interactive mural on the back of APU’s West Campus loading dock that reads “Wisdom is Supreme.” The three-dimensional typographical mural serves as visual punctuation as passengers reach the end of their Los Angeles commute.
The new 11.5 mile extension of the Metro Gold line opened to passengers just last month and offered APU a unique opportunity. Taking advantage of the newly visible backside of West Campus, APU’s Department of Art and Design partnered with world-famous three-dimensional typographical artist Andrew Byrom to create an interactive mural.
“It was intended as part of a beautification project to now upgrade this part of the campus that prior to the Gold Line was not accessible or guest facing,” Terry Dobson, MFA, director of design and assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design.
The quote is derived from a passage in Proverbs 4. The verse highlights the high-cost, high-reward pursuit of wisdom. The verse represents APU’s Scholarship Cornerstone.
“It also puts us on the map regarding proclaiming something that we believe at the university—that wisdom is supreme,” Dobson said.
A generous grant from the Wingate Charitable Foundation funded the project and enabled students from the Department of Art and Design to engage with professional artists and scholars.
“We asked Byrom if he would be the scholar that would work with our department during the fall semester of 2015,” Dobson said.
Byrom accepted the offer and began working with several classes in the Department of Art and Design, introducing students to experimental typography.
The project picked up speed during the fall semester when Byrom and Dobson asked students what words they would choose to elevate from the Scriptures to brand on the back loading dock for Gold Line passengers to see.
“I was looking for a statement that had a powerful connection to the history and values of APU. I also wanted something that would resonate to a wider audience,” Byrom said. “Something that made a statement but also had room for interpretation and intrigue.”
While discussion regarding what the mural should say began, Dobson and Byrom also questioned how they would go about making a mural that interacts with the experience of motion the Gold Line offers.
With this in mind, Byrom placed diagonal bars in front of the typography. When a train pulls in and out of the nearby station, the mural shimmers as a result of a moiré effect, which is a visual perception created when a piece of art sits behind a patterned fence, or in this instance a barred wall.
“Viewing the campus from this vantage point, it’s not obvious to the public that this is a university,” Byrom said. “So, I also wanted something to highlight this was a creative and academic institution…’Wisdom is supreme,’ [which is] taken from APU’s cornerstone of scholarship, was perfect.”