VCU Honors College looks to Richmond Mural Project for vibrant rebrand

by | Sep 8, 2017 | ART

For the people outside of the 1,000 students that make up the VCU Honors College, the West Grace Street building may just get lost in the city skyline and sea of buildings downtown.

But if you’ve noticed within the last week, a big splash of color has been painted across the east side of the tall building. That seven-story-high mural is courtesy of London abstract graffiti artist Remi Rough, who the university commissioned to bring their building to life.

“It’s a fabulous piece of work, it’s his largest,” said Barry Falk, Dean of the VCU Honors College. “From what I understand, it’s the largest mural in Richmond.”

The last six months the college has been working on a rebranding campaign to heighten its visibility within the community and attract potential students.

Photo by Ben White

“One of the Honor College’s main challenges is to become visible not just on campus, but off campus as well, we tend to be a little bit hidden because all of our students also have majors at other schools and colleges,” he said. “So, the Honors College is a bit mysterious to a lot of people.”

To help kick it into high gear, Falk and Tom Klug, associate vice president of university marketing,  sought out the help of Richmond Mural Project curator Shane Pomajambo to help with their rebranding campaign and give potential students a reason to take a second look when weighing their options.

“We’ve been working with Tom to make ourselves more visible both on and off campus and part of that is the sort of things we do and making sure people know about what we do and all the great things that our students do on campus and in the community,” he said. “But also, to rebrand ourselves to help people get a better sense of what we’re all about.”

Falk wanted something similar to the look and vibe of other VCU buildings so the two became to brainstorm ideas.

“I think I brought to him {Klug} the idea, the school of art at VCU has bright banners all over the place on their buildings and I was talking to Tom about maybe us doing something like that,” he said.

Given all of the wall space, Klug suggested a mural and had a connection with Richmond Mural Project, and at the same time, Pomajambo was trying to get RMP 2017 together, so the three decided to work together on this new project.

Rough, who combines graffiti and futuristic styles together, began work near the end of last month and it was completed in a matter of days.

Remi Rough, photo by Ben White

The artist has been an innovator in the art community for over 30 years as a writer and artist. He is a founding member of Agents of Change (AOC), an international artist’s collective, and part of the abstract graffiti movement ‘Graffuturism’ and his work has been featured everywhere from Morroco, to Paris, Toyko, Los Angeles, Miami,  to DC, and New York.

Rough also painted a smaller mural in the lobby to continue the theme inside, but the outside mural is the main attraction.

Rough mural inside VCU Honors College

“From what I understand, depending on where you are east of the building, you can see it from downtown and MCV campus, we commissioned that and I’m really glad that it’s providing us with that kind of visibility and providing Richmond with that kind of artwork. I think Richmond is a mural-oriented city, and I think this fits in beautifully to that,” Falk said.

Considering VCU’s top ranked arts and design school and with the some odd 3,000 students from 35 countries and 39 states that attend, on top of an ever-growing community of Richmond muralists, it seems there is already a plethora of local talent, but Falk said they felt it would be a task for a seasoned professional and one who had not yet left their mark on the city.

“We did think about a student or more from the school of the arts and in fact, we’ve used them for a number of other thing we’ve done, but we thought this was really such a big project…we weren’t sure anybody in the school of the arts had the kind of experience to take something like that on.”

“Second, the opportunity that an internationally renowned artist on campus to do this for us was just really irresistible, and third we just thought in terms of connecting with the community, being part of the Richmond {Mural} Project would be really useful and important and valuable for that.”

But Rough’s mural is only part of the college’s rebranding campaign. Falk said they have plans to change the curriculum as well as get incoming students more involved in the local community.

“One of the Honor College’s newest traditions is a Day of Service with the incoming Freshmen class. Every Fall, the Honors College partners with the VCU Student Leadership and Involvement Center to spend a day improving the Richmond community,” he said. “Over 200 Honors Students spend a day cleaning up parks, improving local schools, planting sustainable gardens, and working at local charities in an effort to make their community a better place.”

This year’s Day of Service will be held on September 23rd as part of the city-wide HandsOn Greater Richmond project.

Amy David

Amy David

Amy David was the Web Editor for from May 2015 until September 2018. She covered craft beer, food, music, art and more. She's been a journalist since 2010 and attended Radford University. She enjoys dogs, beer, tacos, and Bob's Burgers references.

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