By Laura Wright and Deborah Davis
Mural painter Tim Nijenhuis recently transformed Odum Library’s South Atrium space. The mural, Metamorphosis, depicts a transfiguration – the morphing of book pages into an American robin, a communicative songbird that can form large flocks. A native bird species was chosen to represent the idea that libraries exist to share information and can thrive only with the support of their community. This artistic addition to the library was possible thanks to a generous gift from the foundations of the Valdosta State University Archives & Special Collections and of Odum Library.
The library had a goal of transforming a blank wall in the atrium into a photo-worthy space that attracts the attention of visitors. The library’s art committee started investigating options in March of 2021. Artists from across the nation and Canada submitted mural proposals. After a competitive selection process, the committee ultimately felt that Tim Nijenhuis best captured the sense of library, learning, and transformation in his proposal. Tim traveled from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to Valdosta, Georgia, to complete the mural over the course of nine days. Watch a time-lapse video of the mural painting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_02I0q4f24.
The mural represents the culmination of a 12-year project, Art in Odum, where Archivist Deborah Davis has overseen the hanging and display of hundreds of works of art throughout the library. Odum Library’s Art in Odum project is devoted to providing intriguing art in public spaces. The library expects to delight and challenge our students with art. There are several permanent galleries and a rotating gallery space for new exhibits. Visitors can follow a self-guided tour of the art. Art tours are provided several times a year, including for Family Weekend.
Initial reactions have been positive, and the mural has been a conversation starter with visitors to the library. The creation and final version of the mural were shared via Instagram (@vsuodumlibrary) and have proven to be popular, with an 80% increase in views as well as ranking high on impressions/reach of stories. We hope the Valdosta State University community will appreciate this mural for many years to come.
To learn more about the Odum Library at Valdosta State University, go to https://www.valdosta.edu/academics/library/.