New art installations brightens CSUSM Innovation Hub

SAN MARCOS — Students completing prototypes at the Innovation Hub at Cal State San Marcos can now do so against the backdrop of a colorful new mural and interactive art installation, made possible via a collaboration between campus community members. 

The mural, unveiled at the beginning of December, depicts a coastal live oak tree representative of the San Marcos region. The design includes bright colors and lighting elements depicting the four seasons that stand out against the industrial design of the Innovation Hub. 

Next to the mural is an interactive installation that uses a suction tube to transfer a ball through the five stages of the innovation process — problem-defining, ideation, design and prototyping, testing, and implementing. 

The two works were created collaboratively by art, media and design professor Lucy HG Solomon, Bulgarian street artist and muralist Tim Topalov, who painted the mural, and CSUSM alumnus and campus maker space leader Kodie Gerritsen, who was behind the physics of the vacuum-powered wall.  

“If people interact with the vacuum-powered idea pipeline and consider the majesty of the colorful oak tree, hopefully they will think this place is not just for traditional innovations; it’s about stretching the brain and imagination to consider new ways to engage with the world,” HG Solomon said.  

(From left) CSUSM art, media and design professor Lucy HG Solomon, Bulgarian street artist and muralist Tim Topalov, and alumnus and campus Makerspace Specialist Kodie Gerritsen collaborated to create a new mural and interactive art installation at the university’s Innovation Hub. Courtesy CSUSM
(From left) CSUSM art, media and design professor Lucy HG Solomon, Bulgarian street artist and muralist Tim Topalov, and alumnus and campus Makerspace Specialist Kodie Gerritsen collaborated to create a new mural and interactive art installation at the university’s Innovation Hub. Courtesy CSUSM

Students Aidelen Montoya, Evie Reese, Emma Reheis and Melissa Lugtu were also involved in the hands-on development of the mural. 

University officials said the tree mural represents how innovation and nature come together and the connection between all academic disciplines.

“The Innovation Hub is pretty industrial with hard lines, and we wanted something to kind of soften it and bring in more colors, making it gentler. Plus, I just love how the tree branches off into the circuitry and connects nature and technology,” said Scott Gross, associate vice president of industry partnerships and head of the Innovation Hub. 

Topalov was connected to the university through his mother, Rosalina Christova, a longtime university fellow and director of the California Primary Algae Laboratory. 

The Innovation Hub offers prototyping, design and 3D printing services for students.

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