A few years ago, The University of Toledo’s Carlson Library took delivery of a special piece of campus history — a set of hands from the University Hall clock tower.
Now those brass hands are the focal point of a two-sided mural being painted near the library’s circulation desk by two students in UT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Program as part of the library’s experiential learning initiative.
“We always wanted to display the hands somewhere in the library. With the recent renovations, we thought the time was right,” said David Remaklus, director of operations for University Libraries. “Experiential learning is great for the library because we get to showcase student work, and we get to tap the expertise that’s available on campus.”
At the recommendation of Barbara Miner, professor and chair of art, the library invited Rose Mansel-Pleydell and Tara Yarzand to conceive a motif for the project.
The women, both juniors in the program, quickly came up with the idea to incorporate a clock face featuring UT’s signature stonework set between a pair of panels featuring abstract hues of blue and gold. Mansel-Pleydell said her panel represents the converging paths bringing people to the University, while Yarzand said hers is a shattered sky design that represents the future while paying a nod to both the UT Rockets and Toledo’s reputation as the Glass City.
But they both say they want people to find their own meaning in the art.
“It really is sort of open-ended. There’s no correct way to interpret it, but based on those things we came up with, we think it’s a pretty solid design,” Mansel-Pleydell said. “We didn’t want to do something that wasn’t clearly The University of Toledo. We wanted to use the school colors and pay homage to the Gothic architecture because it’s a gorgeous university.”
Because the hands are mounted on a thin dividing wall, the artists are able to use the rear side for a three-dimensional collage featuring a mixture of wood and metal gears meant to look like the innerworkings of a clock. Both the gears and hands will be static.
There’s also a bit of a hidden element in the mural. Painted in the mortar are the names of programs at UT.
“I think there’s something like 500 different majors and career tracks,” Yarzand said. “People will stand here and try to find their own majors. It’s fun to watch.”
Yarzand and Mansel-Pleydell both earned degrees in other disciplines before coming to UT to study art. They each had high praise for the program and said they were grateful to have their artwork so prominently displayed.
“I love UT and I don’t just say that. I’ve been to four different universities now, and I honestly love it here,” Mansel-Pleydell said. “The fact that I’ve had opportunities like this come up has just been out of this world. I can’t believe I actually get paid to do art every day as a junior in college. I’m really thankful they let us do this.”
“I am happy to be enrolled in The University of Toledo as a fine arts student and very thankful that I got this opportunity in my second semester. To me, it represents a step that I wanted to take for a long time: to be a professional artist,” Yarzand said. “We hope that this mural can stand as our tribute to the University and its iconic clock tower.”
Remaklus said he’s been impressed by both the talent of the artists and how much recognition the work is getting.
“It is a really beautiful mural, but it’s also like performance art. People enjoy coming in, watching them paint, and seeing the progress they’re making,” he said. “Tara and Rose have done a fantastic job.”