Stronger Together: Class of 2021 Graffiti Wall Mural Celebrates Class Solidarity, Campus Life

When Natalie Bauer ’21, Iishe Davis ’21, and Samantha McFadden ’21 were approached to collaborate on the Class of 2021 mural for the Scripps College Graffiti Wall, they knew it was not just a chance to showcase the creativity and artistic mastery they had honed over their four years at Scripps, but also an opportunity to capture a unique moment in history.

“It will [show] future students what this year has been like—our mural will be a historical piece,” says Bauer, an art major. “It will be right next to the Class of 2020 design, so together they will encapsulate the pandemic experience.”

Graduating classes have each left their mark on the Scripps College Graffiti Wall since 1931, becoming an essential rite of passage at the College. After the design is painted onto Graffiti Wall, each member of that class signs their name to the mural, becoming a visual time capsule of Scripps’ history that reflects the changing tastes and attitudes of students over the decades.

This year’s mural features the central element of a four-sided figure of interlocking hands—one in medical gloves—grasping one another’s wrists in solidarity. The figure is adorned with an olive branch on one side and the bough of an orange tree on the other—both iconic flora on the Scripps College campus.

The three Class of 2021 artists collaborated on the design by each artist sketching her own vision, and then together fusing those ideas into a cohesive whole. Davis conceived of the idea of the hands, McFadden added the botanical element, and Bauer combined them into a digital illustration using Procreate digital illustration software. “Together, these elements really reflect the diverse experience of so many members of the Class of 2021,” Bauer says.

As the artists explain, when campus closed in March 2020, Scripps students rallied around the call “Nobody fails at Scripps”—a concept emblematized by the interlocking hands. “It was so difficult at the beginning of the pandemic to maintain the quality of work with so many additional stresses and without the usual resources,” explains Bauer. “We wanted to see an academic system that acknowledged this hardship and protected all students experiencing the pandemic from failing their classes.”

“This painting serves as a reminder of how Scripps students will care for each other even when it’s a battle other people don’t think is worth fighting. I want to acknowledge the leftist organizations that have actively worked for years in spite of lack of support or pushback from the College,” adds Davis, a media studies major who focuses on digital art. Davis also notes that the “Nobody Fails at Scripps” campaign raised over $100,000.

Since they can’t be on campus to paint the mural onto Graffiti Wall, the artists created a time-lapse video of the mural rendering that was unveiled to the community at a May 18, 2021, virtual event. The design will be painted onto Scripps’ Graffiti Wall at the soonest opportunity. “The deliverable is, hopefully, a visual manifestation of [our Class’s] togetherness,” adds McFadden, an art major focusing on digital art with a media studies minor.