Cal Poly has debuted its first commissioned outdoor mural, a 504 square-foot piece that can be seen as you walk along Via Carta Road. The mural, entitled “Generosity,” occupies the triptych wall on the side of the campus market building.
The piece was commissioned by the Cal Poly Corporation in May 2022, kicking off an effort to transform the campus market outdoor area and revamp community spaces on campus.
Community is an integral theme of the mural, according to artist Oscar Pearson, who spent the summer painting on campus.
Pearson studied art at Cal State Long Beach, and now runs the community art space The Place on PCH in Oceano.
“You spend a few weeks outside in the same place day after day, and you start to see the same people and you realize there’s a community in every place you go,” Pearson said. “And so you get to be a guest in that space, in that community.”
The center panel of the mural depicts a birds-eye view of the Central Coast’s natural landmarks, while the left panel shows empty cars and coolers on the field, meant to represent the often under-appreciated contributions of migrant workers to Californian agriculture. The right panel shows the famous Cal Poly rodeo, which according to Pearson, exemplifies the university’s motto of Learn by Doing.
“I remember kind of cruising around and seeing if I could find something to inspire me,” Pearson said. “And I saw the rodeo and then I was like, ‘Dang, what’s more hands on than a damn rodeo?’”
The Cal Poly Corporation and community members came together Sept. 30 to officially commemorate the new mural with a keynote speech from Pearson and a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Recent Cal Poly graduate Alan Faz believes the mural will help minorities feel more welcome on campus.
“When we think about underrepresented groups, when we think about what this community is composed of, we think about our migrant workers, we think about all the students that come here from all backgrounds and want to feel safe and welcome,” Faz said. “[They want to] feel like where they’re going to school is similar to the place where they’re coming from, like home.”
More of Oscar Pearson’s art in the community can be found on Instagram @theplaceonpch.