When you walk into the Greenhouse Studios space, you are greeted by a giant hand-painted mural of our design process model. As your eyes follow the flexible path and big colorful circles which represent the phases of our process, you are transported to a world of inquiry, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. River Soma, one of our graduate assistants and a UConn Studio Art MFA candidate with a concentration in sculpture, is the mastermind of the work of art. River has been working with Greenhouse Studios since the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester and has been a fantastic addition to the studio- her curiosity and artistry has proven to be valuable assets. She is the curator of the current art exhibition in our space, which previews the works of the third-year MFA Studio Art students. The works of art really light up the space, just like River’s positive charisma! Read the following interview questions below to learn more about River Soma and the design process model mural she painted.
Who is River Soma? Where are you from? What are your interest and hobbies?
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA area. I’m an artist, photographer, sculptor and all around creative. I spend a lot of time working in clay as hand built sculpture and pottery on the wheel. I love discovering new music, traveling, spending time with animals and doing yoga.
How has Greenhouse Studios fueled your creative processes?
Greenhouse needed someone with a diverse range of skills to help design their space and support their team projects. I love experimentation, thinking on the fly and creating custom design. Working with Greenhouse has allowed me to do all of these things in a fresh way and in collaboration with the team here. This kind of dialogue and questioning keeps me on my toes and invigorates my own process through idea generation and finding new perspective through this collaboration.
You painted the beautiful mural of our Design Process Model on the Greenhouse Studios windows. Please explain your process creating it and any other reactions to the project.
The Greenhouse mural is the largest mural I’ve ever made. I started doing window painting during my time in NYC as a freelance window dresser and just picked it up on my own from watching YouTube videos. The goal with this project was to enlarge an image of the Greenhouse process model, but also to provide a screen for our work-space which has two large glass walls that look out onto student study areas in the library. The process began by taking a photo of the glass wall and bringing it into Photoshop where I made a mock-up of the design to give the team an idea of the final outcome. Adjustments were made after team discussion and upon approval I purchased the supplies and set to work.
Much like creating a painting, you have to think in layers. I taped off all of the exposed metal and applied a white layer first to act as the base for the screen. Following this, I taped paper cutouts to the wall to determine the approximate position of the word bubbles. Once they had been arranged and marked, I colored in the base coat for all of the bubbles. The final touches came with all of the black outlining and text. All of the small lettering was done by hand with an ink painting brush while looking at the Greenhouse font from a style guide. The large Greenhouse logo at the top was much trickier because I knew it had to be highly accurate to represent the existing logo. For accuracy as well as being able to fit it perfectly into a custom space, I created an exact replica in a stencil template using a projector. I transferred the design to the window with transfer paper and then was able to paint over top in black. It was a laborious process, but I feel the end result reflects the care that went into it.
The students in the library have been enjoying the mural screen as well. From their study space, the entire screen is white and they have employed it as a whiteboard to work out equations or other study materials.
What other projects have you participated in at Greenhouse Studios?
During my time at Greenhouse Studios I’ve painted a mural, installed a gallery space, curated an MFA show, organized an art reception, filled the space with greenery, created custom pottery for the space and begun three team projects which focus on the idea of humility and conviction in public life.
What are some of your goals within Greenhouse Studios?
Coming to Greenhouse I didn’t have any set specific expectations or goals other than collaboration because the office space and teams were very new and my role was fluid just beginning to form. My goals soon began developing around bringing more art into the space and enlivening the atmosphere. I think the installation of the gallery completely changed the space and so now my main aims beyond team collaboration are to continue filling the walls with rotating artwork from UConn students. Anyone is welcome to submit 2D or 3D work for a show both at the graduate and undergraduate levels and from any department. We want to promote a campus-wide network and collaborative atmosphere.
Describe Greenhouse Studios in three words.
Energy, Think-tank, Collaboration
Is there any other artwork of yours you want to share?
The Unicorns. This is a portrait piece based on some friend of mine.