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Tunnel Vision

California street-artist brightens campus with latest mural

There’s a place on campus that’s bursting with color that’s sure to draw attention and be the next hot spot for selfies this fall.

An internationally recognized artist, who goes by the name Free Humanity, is the latest painter to create a mural inside of Bridgewater State University’s Turchon Tunnel.

The tunnel is a landmark at BSU that connects the West and East campuses. It is named after former Bridgewater State Foundation member Carolyn (Van Buskirk) Turchon, ’62.

This marks the fifth year BSU has commissioned an artist to create a mural inside the tunnel.

For his design, Free Humanity used his trademark hearts and vibrant colors to cover not only the walls of the tunnel, but the ceiling as well.

“Colors make people feel things, it’s always my goal to uplift people. There is enough suffering in the world, and I believe art can play a major role in uplifting people and the community,” the California-based street-artist said.

Internationally recognized, Free Humanity got his start with small street pieces in Los Angeles that eventually turned into large scale murals around the country.

His art reflects his mission statement: “Taking back the Humanity stolen from our minds by social manipulation and plant seeds of positivity through art and consciousness.”

BSU Associate Director of Collections and Exhibitions Jay Block knew he wanted to hire Free Humanity for this project because in many ways this fall represents the first “normal” semester since COVID-19 hit three years ago.

“After the darkness that we experienced, it’s really important to have a bright, welcoming ray of hope,” Block said.

When Block started the tunnel mural project five years ago, his goal was to create a space activated with color that made people smile.

“If you can stop somebody for just a second and change their day, that’s really a win and a phenomenal thing art can do,” Block said.

As far as having their artwork painted over every year, Block said, for street artists, that’s often par for the course.

“All of these artists understand that that the pieces become tired and have a life, that a new piece comes in and it’s part of a tradition,” he said.

Free Humanity said there is a certain beauty in knowing that his artwork has a shelf life.

“You have to learn to make things and let them go, that’s part of life. Change is not necessarily a negative thing, change can be good,” he said.

“I also think when you see something that might not be there tomorrow, you appreciate it more,” he said. “That’s the nature of life. You might not be here the next day. I try to be like that in my art.”

While his artwork is on display, Free Humanity hopes those who view it when walking through the tunnel feel joyful and inspired.

“I hope it becomes something that can brighten somebody’s day, even if it’s only for two seconds,” he said. 

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