July 14, 2022
22-101

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Odum Library Mural Inspires Growth, Transformation Through Knowledge and Art

Tim Nijenhuis of Hamilton Ontario, Canada, is pictured with "Metamorphosis," a mural he created inside Valdosta State University's Odum Library. The mural measures 24 feet 4 inches wide and 10 feet 6 inches high. 

vsu10569-odum-mural.jpg

Valdosta State University's Deborah Davis, chair of the Library Art Committee, certified archivist, and director of Archives and Special Collections, and Alan Bernstein, dean of libraries, funded the Odum Library mural project with community donations, a legacy of gift giving they have supported with their own personal funds over the years. Their love for VSU began when they were students in the late 1970s / early 1980s and has continued through their service to the university for nearly four decades.

VALDOSTA — Tim Nijenhuis’s “Metamorphosis” creatively uses Odum Library’s South Atrium mural space and surface — a wall of medium density, textured fiberboard panels measuring 24 feet 4 inches wide and 10 feet 6 inches high. It fits well in this place of research and discovery, this destination promoting education through the unexpected. 

Odum Library is, after all, a place where the world of art appreciation goes hand in hand with the learning environment, a concept that makes perfect sense to those who understand the correlation between art endeavors and cognitive abilities.  

When Odum Library kicked off its much-anticipated search for a one-of-a-kind mural for its South Atrium a year ago, Deborah Davis, chair of the Library Art Committee, certified archivist, and director of Archives and Special Collections at Valdosta State University, had high hopes.

“The Library Art Committee members wanted the mural to invite, intrigue, and perhaps even confuse students who come into our area,” she shared. “We wanted to make a strong statement about the centrality of ART as KNOWLEDGE. We asked for themes like books, VSU history, knowledge, and learning, and we indicated that abstracts are welcome. We really wanted this piece to be Art in Odum.”  

The request for proposals reached artists locally, across the state and nation, and around the world. The Library Art Committee carefully reviewed and discussed the roughly 30 designs submitted for consideration, looking for the one that best highlighted the creative impact of libraries while inspiring and exciting the many, many students, faculty, staff, and guests who visit Odum Library every day.

Nijenhuis’s “Metamorphosis” emerged as “the best expression of our theme of libraries, learning, and what that can lead to,” Davis noted.

Nijenhuis’s design gives the illusion that the panels that comprise the mural space transform into books. The books gradually open, their pages spilling out, transforming into birds — birds that symbolize positive energy, freedom, life, and adventure.

“I pride myself in being able to create works of art and successfully respond to clients’ visions and requests,” said the Hamilton Ontario, Canada-based father of three. “A great source of inspiration is to listen to the local community, to do historic research and investigate the surrounding landscape, architecture, and culture. My works tend to enhance the surrounding environment and bring people together from all walks of life, social, or ethnic backgrounds. My pieces provoke thought and energy, but I always intend for these to have a positive and constructive vibe.”

Born in 1975 in Enschede, the Netherlands, Nijenhuis has more than two decades of experience painting large-scale murals. He has created more than 100 murals, many of them large-scale public works of art. He is motivated by a desire to be a positive force in the life of others by using his artistic talent to make a difference.

Nijenhuis recently traveled to VSU where he spent a little less than two weeks single-handedly painting his massive “Metamorphosis” mural inside Odum Library.

“My application techniques include gravity feed spray guns, paint rollers, and brushes,” he shared. “I have gained the skills and knowledge to properly prepare surfaces. I use top-quality water-based, acrylic, latex paints and provide a protective primer underneath to ensure proper adhesion of the painting. For areas of high traffic or frequent use, I usually apply a protective epoxy clear coat to resist dirt and reduce risk of damage.”

“Metamorphosis” is the latest addition to the university library’s Art in Odum collection, which includes hundreds of pieces covering a wide variety of media, aesthetic outlooks, and visual expression, as well as several centuries of creative expression. The library is also home to rotating gallery spaces that bring in fresh, new perspectives a few times a year.   

“We have been celebrating Art in Odum Library since 2011,” Davis explained. “The goal is to make art publicly available in unexpected spaces, so that it is experienced as part of doing something else, like studying or visiting friends. Some of our art is large and meant to be viewed across spaces, as part of the space itself, and some is quite small and rewards very close viewing. We have art from many styles and schools spread all over the library and in other buildings on campus.”  

Davis and Alan Bernstein, dean of libraries, funded the special project with community donations, a legacy of gift giving they have supported with their own personal funds over the years. Their love for VSU began when they were students in the late 1970s / early 1980s and has continued through their service to the university for nearly four decades.

Davis said Nijenhuis’s “Metamorphosis” is “the zenith” of the Library Art Committee’s work. She thanked her fellow committee members — Julie Bowland, recently retired Department of Art and Design professor and Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery director; Dana Jack, Odum Library administrative coordinator; Samantha Paul, reference librarian; Catherine Bowers, reference librarian; Doug Carlson, library technical assistant for Archives and Special Collections; and Dallas Suttles, computer services associate for Archives and Special Collections — for their unwavering efforts to bring the project to fruition.

“We have wanted a mural project for the past eight years,” she added. “I love this piece. It is a dream come true.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=860179508704217 to view a time-lapse video of the mural-creation process.

On the Web:

https://www.valdosta.edu/academics/library/

https://ninehouseproductions.com/index.html
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