Cryptogams ascend on North
seattle college


Spring of 2016 marked the sudden growth of a huge colony of mosses and lichens on the brutalist-style concrete walls of North Seattle College. Kelda Martensen, NSC art teacher and public artist extraordinaire, coordinates what's more than just a class on public art each year: her students make a local artist's wall-sized vision come to life, while developing concepts for murals of their own. 

This year, my moss-and-lichen themed mural design was chosen by NSC's panelists as the winning concept. The design was inspired by the densely-colonized and graffittied asphalt slabs embedded in the campus's boggy terrain, as well as by NSC's mission to establish grounds for thriving new beginnings for its diverse, complex student community.

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To engage the students in cryptogam biology, I invited Bellingham mycologist Fred Rhoades to lead the class on a campus 'cryptogam' tour. As we peered through lenses, sketched, and talked with Fred about what we were seeing, we came to a common understanding about the significance of these organisms' presence in the landscape. We were primed for painting them larger than life!

mural in progress
cryptogam mural corner

The mural measures 40' wide by 15' high. Turning the concept into reality was a bit of a stretch. 

There was a lovely grand opening when the mural and the semester were complete. Thank you to the incredible artists who so quickly made this vision come to life!