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Northeastern students work are ubiquitous throughout the Greater Boston area and beyond. The most recent art sighting by CAMD students can be found at the School of Rock in Watertown. Last year Associate Art + Design teaching professor Sophia Ainslie, was approached by manager Freddy Epstein of the School of Rock looking for students to complete a mural that would be featured in their studio space. Ainslie reached out to Laurel Walsh, Vice President of Northeastern’s Mural Club, who was thrilled to begin working on the project. Laurel then recruited fellow student Vanathi Selvan to collaborate on the mural. 

Vanathi, Business Administration and Design Major, found her passion for creating art in high school, but recognized she had a passion for components of business and entrepreneurship when arriving at Northeastern. For the Houston, Texas native, murals always sparked curiosity from her exposure with the art form over the years. However it wasn’t until her first semester at Northeastern that she wanted to dive deeper into her dream of creating murals.

For Laurel, a Biochemistry Major, although her career ambitions lie in the research arena,  art has always been part of her core identity and felt she had to pursue it during her undergraduate years in college. Her work stood on its own and at the young age of fifteen, Laurel was asked to paint the interior walls of her art studio. She designed her high school classes’ murals for all four years and was fully in charge of the mural-making process from her sophomore to senior year. “The mural-making process taught me valuable leadership skills and helped me adjust to working on large-scale projects, which represent many more challenges than a traditional canvas painting,” said Laurel. 

The mural creation process for the School of Rock in Watertown commenced when Laurel and Vanathi began researching, generating concepts and creating rough sketches. Epstein would provide insight into the world of rock – its history, community and essential components of the art form. After a few rounds of drafts the creative team decided on the final design for the mural. “The result of this collaboration is a mural that not only incorporates Laurel and my style and vision, but also Freddy’s,” explained Vanathi. 

The mural embraces elements of ‘Vanitas,’ (which translates in Latin to vanity), a traditional type of Dutch painting. Laurel and Vanathi used the rich,  indulgent history from the Netherlands as a framework to showcase the tangible objects that represent the identity of the art forms history and School of Rock. The mural also incorporates traditional elements of rock – drums, symbols, bass guitars, pianos, musical notes and personal touches such as Freddy Epstein’s red bass guitar. 

“As an artist, I feel I was challenged by the degree of freedom I had with the design. It’s a legitimate freestanding work of art that I spearheaded the planning and installation of, which feels like a truly significant milestone in my artistic development,” explained Laurel. 

“I learned from collaborating with Laurel and Freddy, working as a team, understanding techniques to painting a big mural, and so much more that I can apply to future projects. I accomplished a huge goal and dream of mine for years, and as an artist it’s both fulfilling and inspiring,” added Vanathi. “This mural helped me grow, and encourages me to pave a way to more opportunities!”

Both Vanathi and Laurel hope the mural reinforces the already existing prominent sense of community that exists at the School of Rock. They hope the mural encourages students of all ages to feel inspired to learn and that individuals of any age are provoked to ask questions and feel excited with the art that surrounds them.