colorful mural on 1-story building

Surplus Center's Art Deficit No More

Art students take on thousands of square feet worth of blank canvas to adorn the Flamingo Auxiliary Building with two larger-than-life murals.

A mural featuring images of recycling
“The Destination,” a mural by UNLV student Annie Lin, draws on recycling symbols to indicate the purpose of the UNLV Surplus Center housed with the building.  (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)

“The Destination,”  Annie Lin 

Located near the UNLV Surplus Center, Annie Lin’s design draws inspiration from the Surplus Center’s mission to repurpose and recycle university-owned property. 

“I used two intertwined green recycling arrows to symbolize repurposing and recycling,” Lin said. “The arrows point to the entrance and are lined with images of items commonly found on-sale in the shop like clothes, electronics, and furniture.” 

Developing the concept didn’t take long, but applying the design to a 114 foot-by-14 foot wall was a more time-intensive effort. Prior to embarking on this project, she had painted smaller murals inside local sushi restaurants, but a mural of this scale was a new endeavor. 

A woman paints a mural

“When you’re working up close on a building of this scale, it’s hard to visualize the relationships between the elements in the design,” Lin said. “You have to constantly come down off the lift and step back to see the full drawing to make sure things are proportioned. Some windy days also made using the lift a bit complicated.” 

Lin worked 20 hours a week, balancing a full class schedule, to make her vision come to life.The art major is graduating this spring with concentrations in painting, drawing, and printmaking. In the long term she aims to be a self-employed artist and learn more about exhibition setup. In the short term, she hopes her mural “will encourage people to stop and take a moment to relax from their busy lives and feel a closer connection to their community.”

A student in a lift paints a mural on a wall
UNLV student Brian Martinez’s mural on the Flamingo Auxiliary Building drew inspiration from some of the employees who work within the building. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)

“Portraits, Plants, and Pattern,” Brian Martinez

Brian Martinez went to the site and gathered inspiration from people from the departments that use the building — the Surplus Center and College of Engineering Robotics Laboratory. He  focused on two major themes: community and environment.

To illustrate “community,” he chose to feature three subjects who had interesting stories to tell and represent the diversity of our campus community. 

The first is Lantis Osemwengie, a research chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency and frequent Surplus Center customer who earned his doctorate in environmental science from UNLV in 2002.
Andrea Mower is the Surplus Center's property supervisor. Finally, Dongbin Kim is a doctoral candidate and is the lab manager of the robotics lab.

To represent “environment,” Martinez depicted flowering plants found inside the Surplus Center and used by the laboratory as part of their research in using robotics to garden. 
Martinez was born to create large-scale murals. 

“In 6th grade, I became interested in graffiti art,” said Martinez. “My English teacher encouraged me to move away from graffiti, so I became interested in acrylics and developed a love for portraits and color theory.”

A student uses a paint roller to work on a mural

Martinez, who is set to graduate this spring with concentrations in printmaking, drawing and painting, used color theory to compose a mural with “the power to move people.” 

"As you view each panel you move through the different feelings and emotions the colors evoke,” he said.

Red represents ambition, chasing a dream or goal. Green signifies stillness, the quiet moment, plants, and the environment. Blue evokes sadness, nostalgia, and melancholy 

“The murals make the building much more fun and inviting,” Mower said. “Annie's whimsical design has the added bonus of helping our patrons locate the surplus entrance and I am deeply honored to represent not only surplus, but the UNLV community at large as a subject in Brian’s mural.” 

Both murals are finished with an anti-graffiti coating for protection and preservation so they can continue to inspire residents for years to come. 

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