Hope Springs Eternal: Graffiti Wall Artist Tori Smith ’20

Victoria (Tori) Smith remembers when she first came to Scripps: It was a campus tour in the spring of 2016, and she recalls being irrevocably drawn to the diversity of thought and style of Scripps students and to the unparalleled beauty of campus. “Part of the tour included a visit to Graffiti Wall, and I remember thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could paint my class’s mural—if I could be a part of making Scripps history?’” Four years later, that dream became a reality. In May, Smith, a double major in psychology and studio art with a digital art concentration, was chosen as the Class of 2020 Graffiti Wall artist. Though the mural will be inscribed once campus reopens, Smith shared her rendering via a livestream that coincided with the Class of 2020 graduation.

As Smith describes in her artist’s statement, the concept for the piece juxtaposes a mask (like those being worn during the COVID-19 pandemic) with floral elements inspired by Scripps’ gardens. Included in the bouquet are orange blossoms, pomegranate flowers, roses, and birds of paradise.

From a formal standpoint, Smith attributes her artistic style to Danish design. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Copenhagen, taking a course in graphic design and Danish principles. “These principles emphasize design, functionality and simplicity, and they moved me to consider how I can make a clear artistic statement with as simple a design as possible,” she says.

When not busy with her classes, Smith worked many different jobs on and off campus: Phonathon, dog walking, her internship with Equinix (where she will begin full-time work this summer), and one semester as a student assistant in the Office of Alumnae Engagement, where she catalogued decades worth of Graffiti Wall murals. “I’ve spent a lot of time with the wall,” says Smith. “It really is an incredible sendoff, a full-circle event, from my first campus visit to the last thing I did while a student at Scripps.”

Smith adds: “I wanted to capture the sentiment that even though our lives will go in many different directions after graduation, the Class of 2020 will remain bonded by our time at Scripps and the impact of the seminal event that marked our class’s college experience, which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but our futures are not defined by it. Instead, we will continue to grow and flourish in our own time, creating our own futures.”