Art at the Heart of BU

Artists work with unexpected canvases throughout campus

Sculptures, paintings, and multimedia works appear on walls, in windows, and along running tracks all across Boston University’s campus. Many are site-specific pieces, designed by artists who draw inspiration from the location and the surrounding environment and communities. Each site offers unique and often irregular canvases.

At BU a spectrum of academics, research, and technologies informs and inspires compelling site-specific artwork from a broad range of artists, including students and alumni. CFA professor of art Hugh O’Donnell and his students look for ways to bring together seemingly disparate areas of study: coding and sculpture, painting and fitness, biochemistry and printmaking.

“When combined with technology, art can do more than provide entertainment; it can rebuild and reanimate society,” says O’Donnell.

Featured here are six artworks either created by CFA students, alums, and faculty, or commissioned for the University—and where to find them.


Angular shapes layered with soothing gradients evoke a colossal, colorful stained-glass window in this mural on the wall of CFA’s parking lot at 855 Commonwealth Ave. Designed by Alexander Golob (’16), the mural conjures BU scenes, from the Citgo sign to Marsh Chapel. Golob was recently commissioned to install artwork expressing Innovate@BU’s vision statement in the University’s BUild Lab Student Innovation Center.

Angular shapes layered with soothing gradients evoke a colossal, colorful stained-glass window in this mural on the wall of CFA’s parking lot at 855 Commonwealth Ave. Designed by Alexander Golob (’16), the mural conjures BU scenes, from the Citgo sign to Marsh Chapel. Golob was recently commissioned to install artwork expressing [email protected]’s vision statement in the University’s BUild Lab Student Innovation Center.

Carson Fox debuted her jaw-dropping 230-square-foot installation Blue-Green Brainbow in the lobby of the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering

In 2017, sculptor and printmaker Carson Fox debuted her jaw-dropping 230-square-foot installation Blue-Green Brainbow in the lobby of the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering at 610 Commonwealth Ave. Fox’s body of work evokes forms found in nature: coral, ice, and, in this case, neurons. Fox researched the work taking place inside the building to create an installation that referenced a pioneering neuroimaging technique—called Brainbow. The piece, which subtly morphs throughout the day as the light shifts across its many surfaces, is composed of 13,500 individually cast resin dots and took six 14-hour days to install. It captures “the beauty and wonder found in the life sciences,” Fox says.

In 2010, Rebecca Wasilewski (’07) designed a series of opaque panels for the lobby of StuVi-2 student housing. With an open-ended directive that the work should have an element of translucency, Wasilewski created hanging panes that allow light to filter through them in a soft glow, giving the effect of an inky, larger-than-life monoprint.

In 2010, Rebecca Wasilewski (’07) designed a series of opaque panels for the lobby of StuVi-2 student housing. With an open-ended directive that the work should have an element of translucency, Wasilewski created hanging panes that allow light to filter through them in a soft glow, giving the effect of an inky, larger-than-life monoprint. The panels were designed for the space from the artist’s print series Microscopium.

Another example of art inspired by scientific research is the luminous jellyfish by Heather Richard (’99), Aequorea Victoria, which depicts a jellyfish that emits an ethereal light from a green fluorescent protein.

Another example of art inspired by scientific research is the luminous jellyfish by Heather Richard (’99), on the first floor of the Photonics Center at 8 St. Mary’s St. Noctiluna, which depicts a jellyfish that emits an ethereal light from a green fluorescent protein, was installed in 2000. The organic chemical reaction that produces the jellyfish’s light inspired Richard’s installation, commissioned with the challenge to create a work of art using light as a medium; the work evokes a traditional drypoint etching technique. The artwork was cut into acrylic glass, which emits light whenever it is scratched, and layered to imply a jellyfish submerged in water. Its light source comes from ultraviolet fluorescent lights positioned around the piece. At the time, BU School of Medicine professor Osamu Shimomura (Hon.’10) was studying the creature’s bioluminescent protein. Shimomura, who passed away in 2018, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2008 for discovering the green fluorescent protein in jellyfish.

Andy Bell (’09), Seth Gadsden (’07), and Kristie Eden O’Donnell (’10) designed three projects that were installed in 2008 and 2009. In Bell’s panel for the BU West outbound stop overlooking the College of Fine Arts at 855 Commonwealth Ave., Rhett, the BU terrier, grapples with the Northeastern University husky mascot.

Public art at BU is integrated with the fabric of Boston. Students in CFA’s Site-Specific Art class noticed the eight sparse panels along the platforms at the BU West MBTA stop and decided to bring art to Green Line commuters. Andy Bell (’09), Seth Gadsden (’07), and Kristie Eden O’Donnell (’10) designed three projects that were installed in 2008 and 2009. In Bell’s panel for the BU West outbound stop overlooking the College of Fine Arts at 855 Commonwealth Ave., Rhett, the BU terrier, grapples with the Northeastern University husky mascot.

Josef Kristofoletti (’07) designed the vibrant mountain of sneakers, titled Sneakerman, on the wall of the indoor running track at the BU Fitness & Recreation Center

Josef Kristofoletti (’07) designed the vibrant mountain of sneakers, titled Sneakerman, on the wall of the indoor running track at the BU Fitness & Recreation Center when he was a painting student at CFA. Kristofoletti went on to become an artist-in-residence at CERN in Switzerland. There, he designed a three-story mural depicting the ATLAS particle detector, which is collecting data at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.

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