Emma Kumagawa | Mustang News

Bishop Peak is hard to ignore for the typical San Luis Obispo commuter, and now its distinctive peak will be equally prominent for passersby in Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics (building 180). A new display of 365 photos of the iconic Central Coast landmark — one for every day of the year — was installed in Baker Science last year, but was revealed Jan. 23.

Graphic communication professor Brian Lawler created the art project to capture the ever-changing personality of the mountain, finding inspiration while on his daily bicycle commute to campus.

“Almost every minute, the persona of the mountain becomes an entirely new image. I wanted to capture that and put it on the wall,” Lawler said.

This project was a 16-month process that began with Lawler building a weatherproof, solar-powered camera box and electronic equipment that enabled the camera to take a photo every five minutes from the roof of Kennedy Library. The camera took 192 photos of Bishop Peak each day for a year.

After retrieving about 70,000 photos in total, Lawler chose the best image from each day, although sometimes the choice was not easy.

“There were many days where the best photo was obvious … but there were three or four days in February where it was almost impossible to pick the best photo,” Lawler said. 

Each photo was then printed on aluminum panels and inserted into the display.

Doug and Rob Brewster, equipment technicians for the biological services department, helped Lawler set the photos in the aluminum. There were several setbacks throughout this process.

“There were unanticipated challenges with new material that we didn’t have a lot of experience working with,” Rob said.

“It wasn’t anything we couldn’t work through,” Doug said.

The final piece is located on the third floor of Baker Science, near room 370. Lawler said by mounting it in a building on campus, he hopes his work will be a lasting homage to Bishop Peak and serve as a reminder to students to pay attention to the natural beauty of San Luis Obispo. 

Lawler added that his favorite photos are the ones with “a ribbon of fog across the middle of the mountain, with the top and bottom of the mountain sticking out.”

Lawler has several art installations around campus, including a panoramic view of San Luis Obispo displayed on the second floor of Julian A. McPhee University Union. The Bishop Peak photos will be his third piece displayed in Baker Science.

The funding for this project was approved in 2015 by College of Science and Mathematics Dean Phil Bailey (now retired) and Associate Dean Derek Gragson. 

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