Odili Donald Odita, one of our current exhibiting artists, is making his mark on the Moss Arts Center long after his last work comes down off the gallery walls.

mural day one blogged

Odili Donald Odita’s painting assistants prepare the wall leading to the Cube in the Grand Lobby for the mural design.

Odita, a master of geometric abstractions who mines the expressive and metaphoric power of line, color, and form in brilliantly colored canvases, will spend nearly a month creating a work on a wall in the Grand Lobby. He took inspiration for the mural design from the contrast between the lightness of the expansive of windows on the building and the use of Virginia Tech’s famed Hokie Stone.

It is an honor to be invited by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to create a wall painting installation for the Moss Arts Center, which houses the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. When arriving at the Moss Arts Center, I was struck by the long and jagged walkway that leads up to the monumental structure seen within a fielded landscape and surrounding park grounds.

My initial feelings were of astonishment; this building seemed to rise up out of the ground, singular and apart from the neighboring structures with its environment. A grounding factor was the stone that comprised much of the exterior structure of this building. The stone itself is saturated with a color that is dominant and starkly present, yet analogous with its surround of sparse green grass and blue-gray sky. This stone’s glow helped to give the feeling that this building could have been carved out of, rather than built into its environs.

There was another feeling I had of disjuncture. There seemed to be a general question of connection between the celestial, upward nature of the windows against the earthly-bound quality of the stone. This feeling changed as I entered the building through its main doors and walked toward the center stairwell. The building sang from this point forward as I walked through the grand, curvular stairwell and into its majestic concert hall. The concert space resonated with the joyous glory of a choir in full effect–the heavens opened up at the ceiling through the design of magnificent arched panels that glide upward with the grace of angels. It was in the stairwell, at the heart of the building, where it all began to make sense for me–this is where I understood the narrative between the forces of parts that are the stone, the windows, like steeples of a church, and the concert hall. Altogether these parts spoke to me with the grandeur of a magnum opus. I knew from that point I had to make a design that would build a bridge and continue the reconciliation between these distinctive parts.

My design has in mind crossroads; crossroads as the point of direction and change where choice and action is made. I want to make a form that is like a windmill rotating with this force of change. I want to create a space that is both reflective and attentive to the design forces throughout the building, and generate in my installation movements that begin to unlock the energies stored within the center’s walls. It is my intention to have the wall painting rotate with color in a big and expansive way, showering its forces outward, throughout the center’s grandiose and dynamic inner core.

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The mural, underway in the Grand Lobby right now, will be completed at the end of the month, and will remain in place for a year. Come by the Moss Arts Center to check on the progress of the mural and to see other works by Odita and his fellow exhibiting artists, Patrick Wilson and Manfred Mohr, while Evolving Geometries: Line, Form, and Color is open, now through November 20.

First image pictured above is a mural installation in Helsinki.