About my thesis research

How can people respond to issues surrounding them, or speak out when most outlets seem closed to them? How can we as designers  cause people to think about an issue, or transform their surroundings into more than just physical structures but organic and responsive which viewers can participate and interact with?

Murals provide an answer. Murals are large-scale works applied directly onto a surface, whether it be a wall, ceiling, or even on the ground. They become an integral part of that surface. They are unique in how they can interact with their environment, offering opportunities to artists and designers that separate them from other media. Murals can also be communal pieces, both in their production in how they are later claimed.

They act as outlets for dialogue in social settings, playing the role as both transmitter and receiver. Murals act both as a response to events going on in their environment and they also encourage further thought, provoking others who view to them to become a part of something larger and delve into taking a stance.

Murals transform their environment as vehicles for commentary, providing a means to respond to events, giving a voice to those who would otherwise none. Murals can make surfaces more than just mere structure, they can transform them into social platforms and message. They can challenge, reveal, and unite.

Looking at those aspects of the nature of mural painting; their environmental and social interactions, can inform designers to create more proactive and evocative works to connect with their audiences, challenging their viewers as much as informing—allowing their message to be more socially relevant and perceivable in environments that continue to grow more and more congested with visual distractions.

The aim of this paper is to expose the transformative nature of murals, how they can alter the surfaces on which they applied and change the meaning of their environment; how they can offer social commentary while simultaneously offering solutions to the issues that they expose; and finally to illustrate how murals can affect positive change within communities.

Nick Di Stefanothesis