Art School Students Give Back to San Francisco with Neighborhood Murals

Academy of Art University is committed to giving back to the people and communities of San Francisco. Among our contributions to the city are many vivid murals, created by students and alumni for all to enjoy.

“The murals tell the story of the neighborhood,” noted former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown in an Academy interview. So let’s take a look at 11 of these amazing murals by our hard-working art school students!

Fisherman’s Wharf

One notable mural decorates the mass transit F-Stop at Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the country’s biggest tourist hot spots. Designed by Academy student Leon Ruiz, the Maritime Mural portrays the history of the wharf. Students from the Schools of Fine Art and Illustration came together to plan and paint the project.

Cova Hotel

Illustration grad Lulu Lin designed the eight-story tall mural on the Cova Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Supervised by Fine Art faculty member Carol Nunnelly, a team of Academy students hand-painted and completed the mural. According to her, “Students from Academy of Art University are devoted to using their talents to enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

Pritikin Museum

Three Academy students created the mural that covers the garden walls at Chenery House in Glen Park. Bob Pritikin, the collector-in-charge of the Pritikin Museum, guided the project from start to finish. As Pritikin’s ideas for the mural changed, the students also revised the final design. “All the knowledge we were taught in school really helps when planning a project,” said Pam Marano, crediting their art school education with teaching them the skills they needed.

San Francisco Fire Department

Students, alumni, and faculty developed the Alleycats mural in honor of the San Francisco Fire Department’s 150th anniversary. Displayed on the SFFD’s Firehouse #1, the mural celebrates the history of these dedicated first responders. “With all the quality help, collaboration and inspired creativity between the firefighters and artists, this project surpassed all our goals,” stated project coordinator Carol Nunnelly.

St. Brigid School

The St. Brigid mural channels the motto of one of the oldest elementary schools in San Francisco: “We have heart.” Titled “The Animal Race,” it pictures a line of cute, playful critters zipping about the campus walls. As Nunnelly points out, this mural reflects the Academy’s values: “Giving back to the community is something our students enjoy doing.”

A Gateway to the Tenderloin

This series of 13 mural panels highlights key moments and figures in the historic Tenderloin. During the project, the student team spent over 1,200 hours researching and painting! “Our goal was to explore the diversity of the subject but keep it cohesive,” Craig Nelson, Executive Director of the School of Fine Art, told Academy Art U News.

In Memory of Andrew “Bart” Simpson

Part of giving back to the community means honoring those who are no longer with us. A group of Academy students memorialized of the life of Andrew “Bart” Simpson, the Artemis Racing sailor who died when his boat sank in San Francisco Bay. In a CBS article, Academy alumni Kris Liwanag, who worked on the mural, stated, “We had to put more art and soul into it.”

Golden Gate Park Golf Course

A mural designed by Academy student Olympia Altimir-Gálvez greets the members of the First Tee of San Francisco, a youth golf club, whenever they meet up. “I really like the design process,” said Altimir-Gálvez to Academy of Art U News. “It let me think about what these kids would like. Bright colors, the water.”

Frida Kahlo, Pop-Up Icon

Director of the School of Visual Development Nicolás Villarreal rolled up his sleeves to paint a bright and colorful mural of Frida Kahlo. The first in a series about key cultural icons, the #POPUPICON now lives on the wall of the Cannery Building.

Porziuncola Nuova

Led by professional muralist Angela Tirrell, Academy grad students painted the Porziuncola Nuova mural in a medieval art style. Located at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, their work honors the life of St. Francis. “With their willing, intelligent presence, the student team quickly mastered the complexity of the project,” Tirrell praised in an SFLUXE interview.

Samesun Hostel

Our art school students designed this mural as part of an ongoing renewal effort in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Once complete, the mural will brighten up the affordable Samesun Hostel and help create a more vibrant atmosphere.

As these artists discovered, pursuing an art school education can result in more than an art degree: it can be a gift to the communities around you as well. Congratulations to all on their fantastic work, and well done!