Student paintings enhance the Peace Garden at USC’s University Park campus

A few blocks northeast of the University Park campus, a 120-year-old house, once boarded up, now shines with freshly painted walls that bring a bit of flair to the Trojans’ travels. In front of it is a vivid image of multicolored hands releasing a bird into the air, and a simple greeting adorns the bottom left corner of the wall: “Welcome to the Garden of Peace.

USC Assignment: Earth Logo 2022At the back of the house, another full mural of a California landscape is stretched across the wall to cover the staircase. Mountains, rolling hills and clear skies spread across the back porch, with bears, mountain lions, squirrels and other wildlife sprinkled throughout the territory. There are many raised garden beds in the garden filled with vegetables and other plants.

The mural and garden are part of the University Park Peace Garden Project, launched last March by USC’s Ms. T. Chan’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy “to create a thriving urban garden where education, research and health programs serve the community.” needs it.”

“Coming here is a breath of fresh air,” said Daniela Lyons, a junior muralist in both the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the USC Rosky School of Art and Design. “Los Angeles is so busy and fast-paced that it’s important to find yourself a place to land.”

The Garden of Peace provides a place to relax and learn

The project began in March with funding from USC’s recent Response to Community Post-Pandemic Vocational Needs (ReSPONs) initiative. The vacant house is managed by USC Real Estate and Property Management, which has no plans to own or develop it at this time.


Video: Student muralists discuss their work.


Camille Dieterl, an associate professor of clinical occupational medicine at USC Chan, who is leading the project, said the garden will provide a place for people to relax, get out and appreciate a little bit of nature.

“Environmental sustainability is a health issue,” Dieterle said. “As an occupational therapist, I think about how nature and the built environment can affect people’s health and well-being, so we’re trying to create a space that feels peaceful but also evokes joy and awe and stimulates our emotions.”

Peace Garden Mural: Trenice Tong b

19-year-old USC student Trenice Tong works on her mural titled “Little Paradise.” (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

One aspect of the Peace Garden that Dieterle highlights is the use of native Californian plants such as sage. Six species of trees are planted in the garden.

“California’s native plants don’t need a lot of water, and we’re putting an emphasis on protecting their populations,” Dieterle said.

For the Peace Garden painting, students were asked to submit designs covering the front and back entrances of the house. The back wall, painted by sophomore Trenice Tong, completely covers the back entrance and extends to the wooden steps that connect to the porch.

“I was really excited about that, because when do you get a chance to draw levels?” said Tong, a student at USC Roski. “That was a big selling point.”

From the first wall paintings to the peace garden

According to Tong, her interest in art began in high school, where there were murals painted by students on the floor of her school.

“Every time you walk by them, you’re filled with inspiration — and then some of them were really ugly,” Tong said with a laugh. “So it’s really influenced how much murals can affect your everyday life.”

Every time I see a blank wall, I say, ‘I could put a wall on a wall.’

Trance Tongmural artist

This was Tong’s first static mural, painted only on a canvas mounted on the wall. Painting the mural, which will be exposed to the elements over time, was more challenging than her previous mural, but now she’s hooked.

“Every time I see a blank wall, I think, ‘I could put a wall on the wall,'” says Tong.

Originally from Peru, Leon painted the first mural Forest book At her mother’s pediatric dental practice. While children often don’t like spending time in the dentist’s office, Lyons said it inspired her desire to bring joy to places where that experience might not be possible.

As a biology and art double major, Lyon knows unexpected combinations. While the boarding house near campus doesn’t seem like a place of beauty and relaxation, Lyons hopes her painting — looking down the street — will spark a smile from passers-by.

“I just want to convey the community, and how we can all come together in Peaceful Paradise and work to build a better and more important place,” Lyons said.

Peace Garden Mural: Daniela Lyons paints

USC student Daniela Lyons, 20, works on her mural titled “Unidas.” (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

More stories about: Community, sustainability, visual arts

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