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CCU mural class leaves permanent mark on the Grand Strand

July 24, 2019
The lobby of the Freemason lodge after the mural was completed.Section One of the mural. The image has been cropped for web display purposes.Section Two of the mural. The image has been cropped for web display purposes.

Coastal Carolina University professor Brian “Cat” Taylor led his mural painting class to the Myrtle Beach Freemason Lodge in leaving their mark this past May.

If there is a big blank wall in the Grand Strand area, Taylor probably already knows about it. Taylor teaches a course in mural painting every year during which he teaches CCU students how to leave a permanent visual mark on the Grand Stand.

Taylor, a Carolina native, was born in Florence, S.C., and grew up in Darlington, S.C., and Shelby, N.C. He attended Shelby High School and St. John’s High School and earned his undergraduate degree in art studio at CCU. He fell in love with art and painting at an early age, and earned his Master of Fine Arts in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After years of going to classes, he began to teach his own classes at CCU in 2011.

“I can’t remember when I wasn’t creating some kind of visual art. It has always been my passion,” said Taylor, lecturer of visual arts. “Bedroom walls turned into city walls and passion eventually turned into paid work.”

Taylor’s mural class, ARTS 499 Public Arts and Special Topics, is taught every May and excites the Grand Strand community every year. Many different groups and businesses around Myrtle Beach ask for Taylor and his class to come and paint a mural for them.

“We receive more than 100 requests for murals each year,” said Taylor. “It is very important who we paint for is someone I feel I can work with when creating the design for the project.”

According to Taylor, he picks the place he wants to do the mural project based on a variety of factors. The place has to include a wall that is physically big enough that students will be able to create a large format of work. It also cannot have any major structural damage, and the owner of the wall must be able to provide storage for the paint and other supplies used during the project. He must also be able to feel like he can work with the space he is designing.

In the past couple of years, Taylor’s classes have painted murals in The Wave Lab at the Coastal Science Center, Hot Works Station at the Edwards building on campus, the Grand Strand Freemason Lodge, Myrtle Beach Freemason Lodge and Churches Assisting People building in downtown Conway.

This past May, Taylor’s class painted an interior mural at the Myrtle Beach Freemason Lodge AFM 353. Taylor designs and creates all the murals himself, and then presents it to his class. They painted a select timeline of Freemasonry from its inception to present. The mural encompasses the values of Freemasonry by showing how to be a good citizen, have good character and by helping the less fortunate.

“All mural projects are designed to best accentuate the space that they inhabit,” said Taylor. “This allows me the control to know what I am teaching, how to best assign work to students, and to always keep the momentum of the project moving forward.”

Many of the students who take this class have never completed a piece of artwork this size before or it is their first time painting a mural. This allows Taylor to teach the foundation of painting on a large scale.

“I have never done anything this big, of this magnitude,” said Zatrel Lee ’19, CCU graphics design major. “I wanted to push myself to see what I could accomplish.”

Since this is a Maymester, four-week class, many of the students put a lot of time into their work. They usually worked on the mural Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Because of the students’ dedication, some students would even come back in the evening to perfect the piece.

“It is kind of surreal. This mural is going to outlive me,” said Lee. “I will always be able to come back and see something that is timeless.”

This is a class that Taylor looks forward to every year. He loves to take his students along for the ride in what he is passionate about. He hopes to instill the values that he has in painting into his students and give them a class that they can reflect on every time they visit the mural.

“Public art takes a special dedication to creating something that is less personal and more universal to those who the project is created for. Working with a team of artists allows the individual to get out of their personal space and invest themselves in a more communal idea of creating art,” said Taylor.