Sophia Frye ’23 Brings Joy, Humor, and Campus Wildlife to Graffiti Wall

By Mirabella Miller ’24

Sophia Frye '23 poses with her finished Graffiti Wall mural, representing the Scripps College Class of 2023

Since the College’s first class graduated in 1931, Scripps seniors have left their mark on Graffiti Wall. Each spring, the graduating class inscribes a section of the wall with student signatures and a mural representing their time at the College. When this year’s artist, Sophia Frye ’23, studied previous class years’ murals, she noticed something missing: namely, the squirrels that populate the Scripps campus.

“To me, the squirrels at Scripps have an iconic presence on campus, especially since we have nice weather here and get to be outside with them all year round,” Frye says. “I think most Scripps students have a funny story about a squirrel they’ve seen on campus.”

During her brainstorming process, she noted aspects of other murals that she liked and wanted to incorporate, such as reflecting the personality of each class year and incorporating senior names into the design.

“I was hooked by the idea of putting the names of seniors in the squirrel tails,” she says. “I imagined the squirrels as Scripps students doing things like reading a book, going to the farmer’s market, eating oranges, sunbathing, and conducting a chemistry experiment. I really wanted to capture the Scripps culture.”

An important consideration in Frye’s process was if and how to represent the many ways the Class of 2023’s Scripps experience was impacted by COVID-19. Ultimately, Frye consciously chose not to make the design about the struggles the class endured due to the pandemic and its repercussions. Instead, she chose to focus on the joy and community the class continued to cultivate despite difficult circumstances.

“I think we all are tired of letting the past few years define us,” she says. “I want the mural to be a celebration of the joy and community we created in spite of it all, which I find to be much more empowering than lamenting our struggles. When I look at the other murals, I am reminded that we are not the first class to go through turbulent times. Our time here was nothing like what any of us had imagined, yet through it all we had each other.”

Frye has dreamed of designing and painting the Class of 2023’s Graffiti Wall mural since she first toured Scripps. Creating it is a special honor, made even more special by the support from some of Frye’s fellow senior art majors Vivian Monteiro ’23, Sophie Mannes ’23, Olivia Wiebe ’23, and Charlotte Meigs ’23, who assisted Frye with the painting process.

“Graffiti Wall is such a special tradition at Scripps and something everyone looks forward to during their time here,” she says. “Getting to leave a permanent, tangible mark here is very fulfilling. In a way, painting the mural has allowed me to give back to a community that has given me so much.”

The process has anchored Frye into this longstanding tradition, spurring connections with fellow students and alumnae. “I’ve had members of the Scripps community come by and ask me about the mural,” she says. “I even heard from an alumna who had purchased art from me and said seeing me paint the mural made her feel even more connected to Scripps. It’s been rewarding as an artist to bring this idea to life and see how much my peers love it.”

Frye hopes that the mural serves as a testament to the Class of 2023’s character, just as her favorite murals from previous classes did. “I hope that when people look at the mural, they see that we are choosing to move forward fearlessly and are looking back on our time at Scripps with loving eyes despite the adversities we faced,” she says.

She also hopes that it encourages future members of the Scripps community to slow down and enjoy each other’s presence.

“There really is no place like Scripps,” she says. “I hope that it inspires future Scripps students to appreciate their time together and to savor the little moments.”