Mural Guide: Will Hatch Crosby
This collaborative mural was designed and painted by Griffin students in the Spring of 2022. It explores the journey of adolescence and celebrates the creative community at Griffin. The recurring character with blue hair is nicknamed “Jupiter”, and they represent a Griffin student on the path of self-discovery. To follow Jupiter along their path, viewers should walk the mural from right to left. The plant imagery that flows throughout the artwork is a reference to “the growth mindset”, which is a philosophical pillar at Griffin. The mural is dedicated to all the Griffin students, staff, and families who persevered during the ups and downs of the COVID pandemic. It is called “The Garden of Growth.”
The following text describes each section of the mural from right to left in the artist’s own words:
Juliet Quisenberry: I have the first part of the mural. The main character of the story, Jupiter, is starting their journey and entering highschool. They’re surrounded by flowers and trees to symbolize the growth that they are about the experience. There are sunflowers, bluebonnets, and tulips. Unlike Oliver’s section, which has cactuses with faces, everything in my section is relatively realistic to symbolize that before entering griffin, their imagination has not quite developed yet. As the mural progresses, it gets less and less realistic to symbolize how Jupiter is becoming more and more creative and entering a new world.
Oliver Portman: My mural depicts two anthropomorphic cacti looking at the sun. The underlying message, while it may not be apparent, is that we are all different but all a community at griffin. This is why I gave the cacti subtle differences in both anatomy and style. Another message that could be derived from this is that we should look forward to things to come. Maybe college or whatever your education has allowed you to accomplish.
Charlotte Linklater: My section of the mural features a band of cacti jamming out in a desert. The guitarist is a prickly pear cactus, the singer is a yucca plant, and the drummer is an agave plant. This design is meant to reflect the flourishing musical culture at Griffin. You can see Jupiter walking away from the performance appreciating the music of the cacti as students at griffin appreciate each other’s art. This part of the mural is also when the plants seen in previous sections become more fantastical, coming alive with the creativity and joy continued in further sections.
Will Mercer: My section of the mural heavily centers around the theme of connectivity. These connections we obtain nurture our growth and enable us to grow to great heights and to continue on. This theme is very clearly expressed in the section in which those themes are presented by converging wires almost indistinguishable from vines connected to a telephone pole, almost transferring growth and human connection between one another in a network. All of these vines converge to a single bulb which serves as a representation of our community as a whole, showing the power our bonds have. Additionally, as the road passes through it, it serves as a fact that our bonds provide our way forward through both this world and Griffin. In all, it serves as a key factor in growth, being how we connect.
Ming Irwin: My main mural piece plays with scale, by showing the person and the things that they bring (a larger ship, and a smaller dinghy) as completely dwarfed by the focal point of the mural, the massive sea serpent. The entire scene is shown as if it is within a massive cloudbank, juxtaposing itself with the bordering pieces as if a dream or other break from reality. I have always been fascinated by legends of dragons, mythic metaphors of things beyond human comprehension. In some tales, they are bearers of disaster, while in others they are a blessing of luck. I tried to make the dragon in my piece of unknown intent – we do not know the story of why the character is communicating with the dragon, thus we do not know the dragon’s intentions. Dragons represent the unknown, a fitting choice for the feelings of high school, where everything seems unknown and a little overwhelming. The student, just as the character, must learn that we can face down these imaginary dragons, and that they could be a good-luck charm far more than a terrifying beast to be conquered.
Eris Liebster: My section was based around the idea of a point to stop and rest. The night sky above, containing the constellation Ursa Minor (headed by Polaris, the North Star), with an (albeit Cthulian) tree to rest under. It’s designed as a place of refuge from the expectations of the student during the year. The breaks in between the school weeks are what help the students psyche the most.
Rodney Johnson: This section of the mural depicts the inside of an ant hill filled with a variety of bugs. Around the hill there are cacti, cows, and butterflies. The bugs in the colony of the ant hill represent a community full of unique individuals who are working together to achieve the same goal. This is similar to the experience at Griffin because we all look out for each other and share this wonderful community. None of the bugs are identical to each other, representing the diversity of our community, while also showing the solidarity we share in all being high school students together.
Matilda Parkman: My mural design is a griffin in a ghost costume. It is supposed to be a pun for “Griffin Spirit”. Adam and Caroline are very passionate about Griffin Spirit and supporting everyone at Griffin and for everyone else to be passionate about Griffin. I thought it would be a good representation of how everyone is supportive of each other and we are all connected through Griffin. It shows my positive experience at Griffin. I had always hated school with a burning passion up until high school when I came to Griffin. I actually love school now and will always hold my high school experience very close to my heart. I found the school I really belong at and I’m very happy and grateful for Griffin. I’m not very good at school but I couldn’t have found any better of a place to be a part of. Griffin is also a huge arts school so I think a painting of Griffin Spirit embodies the school very well. I love that my painting has a hidden meaning and you really have to examine the painting to understand the point. People that realize the meaning of my piece feel like they are a part of our own secret community. It’s only for people who love art and appreciate it and it makes me feel very clever and smart. The fact that I came up with this gives me a pretty big ego about my art, and I think my piece is the best part of the whole mural. (:
Iris Pierce: My portion of the mural is meant to evoke a sense of community, a certain home for the character’s seen throughout the mural. It shows a griffin present comforting the people next to them as they sit and enjoy the afternoon. There’s this sense of belonging Griffin once gave me that has been very important for my experience here, I wanted that to be the underlying idea expressed in this piece. There is also a sense of bittersweetness in itself. The facial expressions of each figure are gleeful and euphoric but at the same time the path has to continue, and this moment must come to an end. I modeled the griffin after my favorite form of the creature, the owl griffin, they have much softer features than the typical griffin and I think is just overall more comforting. It’s a little silly but I modeled the eyes after one of my favorite pictures of Johnny Depp. It’s such a soft, happy presence, but at the same time a sullen reflective tone is present in those deep eyes of theirs. The patterns on the griffin’s wings are meant to be a sort of interlocking web of sorts, similar to the path some portions are linear while others are a little unclear. I am proud of how my section turned out. My partner Maya has helped me immensely as well and overall our wall is really cool.
Maya Turner: For my section of the mural, I’d like to think that the people laying on the griffin are comfortable and can represent the comforting nature of Griffin as a school. And the sun is sort of watching over everything. While all that is going on, there are lots of stars and even a planet. This is sort of to inspire students to “reach for the stars.” All together this section of the mural doesn’t really depict a specific step of the main character’s journey but it definitely is relatable to other students at Griffin.
Mazzy Carroll: One of the mural sections Rodney and I worked on is the flower section. In this part of the mural, there are many young people with flower heads hanging out with each other in the forest around a campfire. The recurring path goes through this forest scene. Each flower-headed person has a different plant as a head, representing individuality and the sense of community found amongst Griffin students.
Kenny MacDonell: The second section I designed for the mural is of someone that not alot of people notice but in fact lives right on campus. He doesn’t have a name, or a story, but he takes care of our campus garden when everyone is at home. I like to think he’s kind of the equivalent to a dream catcher in the way that he wards away any negative energies on campus. I wanted to make him part of Jupiter’s Journey because he is a sort of hidden guardian making sure everyone stays safe as they grow and evolve through their years at Griffin. The way I painted him I really wanted to show his tranquil nature and his peacefulness. He is not going to interact with Jupiter at all but is always there if needed much like a lot of the staff members working at Griffin. He’s sitting underneath a large sunflower to represent his spot in the garden and to also show his ability to help things grow to their full potential. Since the flower was able to meet its own goals it was able to attract a cute songbird to keep it company. This small scene is just supposed to be a small pocket of peace and relaxation to allow people to give themselves time to reflect and breathe.
Ming Irwin: We all had books we read religiously as a child, and these helped shape us into our current selves. For my electrical box design, I used the small space I had to work with to create a scene that represented this. The left portion of the section is designed after Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and the right portion is designed after A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh was my favorite book as a child, and I know a lot of other people who feel the same about the stories. The Wind in the Willows holds a different spot in my heart, as I didn’t read it as a child, but it is a very pleasant story. High school feels very far from childhood for the students, but it is not. I wanted to call back to those halcyon days with this small section of the mural.
Alexa Gamboa Alcocer: The initial design for my section of the mural includes the big hand holding our character, Jupiter. Apart from looking good in my opinion, this was also supposed to represent the Griffin community as the hand holding the character who is a representation of all of us as students. The guitar is there as an extra detail adding to the not only visual but performing arts focus this school has, as well as a small griffin companion that is just the school’s mascot. The section right next to it features some butterflies and a huge tree. The tree, as many of the plants throughout the wall, represents growth, as does the butterfly as it transforms and evolves just as we do throughout our highschool journey. Both of these went through a couple of different phases before reaching the final design and have even changed while painting directly on the wall but stay connected to one another as well as to the rest of the wall.
Olive Kirshbaum: My piece of the mural is meant to serve as a space of transition and growth, depicting a school of fish swimming through a garden of coral and native Texas plants (prickly pear, firebush, century plant, and black-eyed susans). The background consists of wispy clouds rolling into smoother water, while triangles, sine waves, stars, and a few bats, decorate the foreground. I think the only defined step in our character’s journey through high school that my piece represents is being aware of one’s own growth. I wanted my section to add some life to our original themes of time, growth, and native plants; representing forming roots in the safe habitat of the school, as well as giving yourself the time and space to grow. I also wanted the blending of geometric and organic shapes to show that while we still carry pieces of our past with us, and while they can be beautiful, there is no need to either make them fit a certain mold or force oneself to grow linearly in an attempt to emulate familiar forms or conventions (represented by geometric shapes taking scattered or plantlike forms). The plants are in various shapes and sizes, but they are all blooming in their own way, and I feel like reaching a point where one has a sort of visual marker of how much they’ve grown is a really significant and validating moment. Personally this is something that I look forward to, even though I don’t think I’m fully there yet. I feel like a big message of the entire mural is that fulfilling and rewarding growth takes time, and I hoped to represent that through showcasing how diverse growth can be in a dynamic, botanical way.
Paidia Majcher: In my section of the mural I painted Jupiter on the path being watched through a fishbowl by someone that looks like a younger version of them. There are also fish swimming through the fishbowl. I think this shows the character reflecting on themselves. Jupiter is looking back on what they were like when they were younger and the young Jupiter looking at what they could be.
Zara Warburton: My section of the mural is supposed to be the finale to Jupiter’s journey. It features Jupiter, now a large sort of celestial as their hair forms clouds. They are showing the way to a smaller figure, who I like to call Saturn. The mural also features both planets as they appear in our sky. Jupiter has reached the end of their journey of discovery, and is now shepherding Saturn onto theirs. In terms of Griffin school, I personally see my Jupiter as a senior on the presepus of graduation, welcoming an incoming freshman to the community. There is also a small griffin, who will always be in Jupiter’s corner, no matter where their path may lead.
Kenny MacDonell: The first section I designed for the mural is a representation of the end of Jupiter’s journey through their life. It depicts a tall goddess-like person that is being wrapped with the tail end of the walkway Jupiter is using to make their way through the mural. In a sense, the goddess-like person represents Jupiter as their final chapter and what they look like now that they’ve grown. It has the same sort of silhouette that Jupiter does, other than the clothing. And to show a significant change, the colors used for the goddess are the inverted colors of Jupiter. In the hair of the goddess, there is a floating crown made of pencils and art supplies to represent the knowledge and creativity Jupiter had gotten from meeting all of the other characters in the beginning parts of the mural. The whole idea of the mural itself is really just a metaphor for the journey you take when you come to Griffin, and my part specifically shows the growth and new abilities you can achieve by the time you graduate and go off into the world.
To see photos of the mural progression, click here!