The Innovation and Instruction Building is a striking new structure on the CSUDH campus, but the visual appeal isn’t just in its architecture. Inside, Toros are greeted by a series of eye-catching murals created by Los Angeles artist Mark Steven Greenfield. The eight murals adorn walls throughout the building, adding a vibrant and meaningful touch to its interior spaces.
Greenfield’s work was chosen from that of more than 90 artists who submitted work to be considered for the project. “I was excited by the level of artists that were interested in this project,” said Aandrea Stang, director of the University Art Museum and a member of the project’s selection committee. “We got a lot of great submissions, but Mark’s work really stood out. It was clear that his pieces were the best fit.”
Greenfield, who received his bachelor’s degree in art education from California State University, Long Beach, and his MFA from CSU Los Angeles, has deep roots in the Los Angeles arts scene, both as an artist and arts leader. He was an administrator for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and was the director of the Watts Towers Arts Center before serving a stent as director of the LA Municipal Art Gallery. His works have exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally.
Greenfield’s work, although primarily abstract, concerns itself with the complexities of the African American experience, both historically and in contemporary society. Many of the pieces on display have their genesis in Greenfield’s meditation practice, and are based on images formed in his subconscious.
He feels this basis in meditation makes the murals perfect for an educational setting. “I hope the work can be accepted in the same spirit in which it was created,” he says. “I’m hoping that people look at it, and maybe some of that meditative atmosphere gets translated to them, and puts them in a mindset that is more conducive to learning.”
The works didn’t start out as murals, but as pen-and-ink pieces as small as 28 inches high. They were enlarged and printed onto high-quality vinyl that was then applied to the building’s walls, an approach that will enable the works to be changed every few years. “I was shocked when I saw them blown up to mural size,” says Greenfield. “Now I can really see all my mistakes!” he laughs.
The project has inspired Greenfield to pursue more large-scale projects. He is currently working on a project for the new Metro Regional Connector Station in downtown Los Angeles. Called The Red Car Requiem, it’s a mosaic mural that will be 147 feet long once completed. “It’s a tribute to the old Red Car transit system in L.A., and is the largest project Metro has ever done,” says Greenfield.
Meanwhile, the Toro community will get to enjoy his work every time they step into the Innovation and Instruction Building. “I’m excited, and I feel that we’re really lucky that we get to live with this for a while,” says Stang.