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Public Art on South Campus: University of Massachusetts Lowell

Mahoney Hall, MESA, Sophy Tuttle, 2022

mural painted on a brick building showing an owl, lizard, birds berries and foliage


mural detail with lizard and berries and text mahoney hallThe mural on the exterior of Mahoney Hall currently ranks as the largest work of art on South Campus—it spans 120 feet in length and 40 feet in height. The title of the work, MESA, references the acronym for the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and we are immediately confronted with over-life size images of plants and animals on the endangered species list: a showy lady’s slipper, barn owl, sandbar willow, blue-spotted salamander, snowberry, and eastern meadowlark. The artist, Sophy Tuttle, has earned a reputation for art that focuses on the natural world; this interest connected perfectly with other initiatives at the university, such as the founding of the Rist Institute for Sustainability. Tuttle’s work at Mahoney represents one of eight murals completed in Lowell in 2022 as part of a statewide mural festival. Local arts non-profit ArtUp Lowell teamed up with Beyond Walls from Lynn, Massachusetts to organize the endeavor.

young woman on a hydraulic lift painting the side of a large brick building

About this Installation

As the additional photos on this page reveal, the creation of this mural required several steps. It was first drawn at a much smaller scale by the artist in her studio. It was then mapped out onto the wall using a technique that looks like graffiti: the abstract markings are a way for the artist to scale up the initial image. The markings block out the size of each section and then the artist covers them with the more realistic images of the animals and plants. For this particular project, the artist had the assistance of UML art student, Urdilinya Smith, who helped manage the project and also paint it.

young woman on a hydraulic lift painting ta mural on the side of a large brick building

If you are standing outside of Mahoney looking at MESA, also consider visiting our university art gallery inside Mahoney: