'YCProud': Yuba College celebrates its first mural amidst a series of campus upgrades

Dec. 23—This week, the Yuba Community College campus in Marysville celebrated the completion of its first mural, a collaborative project that involved a committee of prominent faculty, staff, and community members.

The mural signifies a period of transformation for the college which started back in early 2021.

Prior to this, Yuba College President Tawny Dotson said it was made clear to her that the facilities at the Marysville campus were not being stewarded properly. A focus was then put on becoming "YCProud," a theme meant to inspire the surrounding community and revive the enthusiasm of both students and educators.

"Our first project was the repair and painting of our facilities at the Marysville campus," said Dotson. "We had recently made good progress in updating and sealing most building roofs. We transitioned in 2020-2021 to repairing siding issues and to painting the facilities to look and feel more like a place where students want to learn and teachers want to teach."

With that project nearly complete, the second phase involved the removal of unusable buildings and the third step centered on the modernization of classrooms and bathrooms with additional plans to relocate the school's softball field. Finally, staff and board members sought out external partnerships in an effort to bring more beauty and vibrancy to campus.

Earlier this year, the college approached Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture for support in sourcing a quality artist for the school's first mural. The job ultimately fell into the hands of Rebecca Wallace, an established artist and educator, who worked intensely with the college's mural committee to finalize a design that highlights the many academic programs available at the school.

Organizers originally planned to have Wallace start painting in October, but delays in approving the design held things up until the week of Nov. 14.

"I've never painted this late in the year before," said Wallace. "It's been a bit of a challenge staying warm and now we're hitting the rain which has been a bit of a bummer because it stops your momentum, but that's all just part of the process when it comes to painting murals."

The finished product seems well worth the wait with an image that incorporates the college's school colors, diverse demographics, and represents both the arts and CTE programs.

"We hope the first mural will lead to more murals representing the diversity and rich history of our community and our college," said Dotson. "We believe this mural will begin to visually connect our campus with our students and our community, will create a more inclusive environment, and will welcome visitors and guests to the '#YCProud' original organization for our district."

Over the past few years, Wallace has participated in several mural events initiated by Yuba Sutter Arts. Her local works can be seen outside the Live Oak Public Library, the Live Oak AT&T Building, the former Sonny's Market building at Elm Street and Broadway in Live Oak, and the poppy painted utility box at Veterans Park in Marysville. Yuba College marks Wallace's fifth mural within the Yuba-Sutter region, but it's her first in terms of size, shape, height, and weather obstacles.

This new piece wraps around the outside of Building 400, the college's theater, which is centrally located at 2088 N. Beale Rd. in Marysville. The large outer wall of this facility curves at about a 45-degree angle and stands nearly three stories high. Aside from the wind and rain, Wallace said one of the biggest challenges revolved around getting the design projected onto such a concave surface.

"We did all that at night time so we were sort of coordinating our boom lift with a 16-foot ladder to project the image and that was pretty difficult," added Wallace.

The boom lift, or crane, also presented a challenge to Wallace who struggles with a severe fear of heights.

"I've been working through it," said Wallace. "My partner has been helping with this too and he's actually operated cranes before, so just having him walk me through that has really helped."

Wallace was also assisted by several college art students and a trustee along the way. One such student, Diana Franco, said she appreciated how the design looks a bit abstract up close but dissolves into a more realistic picture the farther away one moves. As a former teacher at Yuba College, Wallace said she's enjoyed having the opportunity to bring something special back to a place that meant so much to her.

To find out more about Wallace, visit wallacemuralsanddesigns