The Oxford Canteen is buzzing with life thanks to a new mural painted by senior Victoria Daily.
Daily, an art major, has been selling her work since she was 15 but is new to painting murals. She recently finished her first mural project in the interior of local restaurant Mi and Tea.
Daily finds her inspiration to paint murals from the time she spent with her uncle, who was paralyzed in a car wreck when she was in fourth grade. The trips to the intensive care unit and other places where people experience grief led her to devote her art to a cause.
“I want to be able to go and brighten up places where people are going through hard things,” Daily said. “Maybe one day I’d like to put murals in ICU waiting rooms and places I’ve seen my family have hard times in.”
This new medium has been a learning experience pushing her out of her typical artistic style.
“Most of the time I paint privately in my studio space, so to start doing public art was a little bit nerve-wracking, but it’s what I’m good at,” Daily said. “Once I put the first layer of paint on the wall, I wasn’t nervous anymore.
The process of creating a mural for Oxford Canteen took her about a month, with the first week spent talking to potential clients. Once she connected with the Oxford Canteen, Daily spent the next few weeks sketching out different ideas. Corbin Evans, one of the owners of Oxford Canteen, said that the idea of featuring art outside of the restaurant was nothing new.
“We had always thought that wall screamed, ‘Mural me!’ And after seeing some really amazing wall murals in other towns like Minneapolis, Nashville and Asheville, we figured we should seriously look into it,” Evans said. “We hoped it would brighten that wall space and be a positive artistic landmark for our business, North Lamar and Oxford in general.”
According to Daily, it was difficult finding a business that was interested in a nature-centered mural, which is the style of painting she prefers. The Canteen was open to the theme, but rather than a bird idea that Daily originally pitched, the design came from in house.
“In one of our initial meetings, she noticed the bee honeycomb tattoo I have on my arm and took a photo of it,” Evans said. “She was then able to create a similar pattern and some of the same coloring of my tattoo in her final sketch to us and we loved it.”
It only took three to four bee and honeycomb sketches before they agreed on the final design. The theme of the mural required a slight shift in style from Daily.
“I like to paint what I would say are more scientific illustrations,” Daily said. “But if you think about a three-foot-long bee painted on a wall they actually look kind of intimidating, so we decided to make the bees look fun.”
Daily came into contact with the Canteen through biology professor Jason Hoeksema. They have been friends for roughly a year and a half, connecting over bird conservation and avian art while Daily was enrolled in programs and classes that Hoeksema was teaching.
According to Hoeksema, it is highly uncommon for an art student to be enrolled in biology classes, but Daily used the time in the biology courses to hone her skills painting birds.
It was after a presentation Daily gave in Hoeksema’s ornithology class last spring that she first expressed her interest in painting murals. Hoeksema took to Facebook and used the connections he had built with local business owners over the past 13 years to advertise Daily’s talent.
At least 10 to 12 businesses responded with interest in commissioning a mural.
“I was really happy with it,” Hoeksema said. “There aren’t a lot of murals in our area, and I think people really love them. There’s a lot of momentum there because of that. There’s an open niche.”
Hoeksema believes that the demand for Daily’s art will probably rise, but that she most likely won’t need any more help from him.
“One of the most fulfilling things about my job as a professor at the university is having a chance to make a small difference in helping students to find their career path and be successful in what they want to do,” Hoeksema said.
Though Daily plans to focus on graduation and her academics this school year, she looks forward to working on more public art and murals in the future.
“I really like the idea of public art, it’s something that can brighten peoples day,” Daily said. “I’d like to continue with murals throughout my career because I feel like they reach a lot of people.”