Maria Park's 150-Foot Mural in San Francisco Slows Time

A mural on street barricades around the construction site of an above-ground subway station
Sight Plan 1-7, a mural by Maria Park, was installed on street barricades at a new subway station on Stockton Street in San Francisco. photo / provided
Multimedia artwork depicting blue sky and clouds created by Maria Park
Detail of Sight Plan 1 (2016), one of Maria Park's images included in a group exhibition at Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City. photo / provided
Multimedia artwork depicting blue sky and trees and a street sign created by Maria Park
Park's images from the exhibition give surprising sky vistas as if seen from just above the horizon. photo / provided
February 14, 2017

"I'm interested in slowing down the speed in which an image is viewed or consumed," says Maria Park, associate professor in the Department of Art. That was the aim of a mural installed last summer on a 150-foot temporary barricade adjacent to the construction of the Central Subway Chinatown Station on Stockton Street in San Francisco.

Titled Sight Plan, the mural incorporates images of sky and clouds inspired by and painted from 150 photographs Park took over the last 10 years. It was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission in partnership with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The images were painted on clear Plexiglas and then scanned, creating an effect that questions whether the image is a photograph, painting, or graphic print. "I wondered what it would look like to create a window of sky at this site, as if the urban environment were permeable to the sense of air and atmosphere around it," says Park. "While the images are familiar, it won't be immediately apparent to the viewer how they were created."

Park received the commission at the end of September 2014. The project was installed in August 2016 and will be on view through the summer of 2017.

In January, some of the original paintings from which the mural was created were shown in a group exhibition at Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City, titled Hoping for Clear Skies. Works by six female artists are included in the exhibition: Jaq Belcher, Lula Mae Blocton, Maureen McQuillan, Heidi Spector, Heidi van Wieren, and Park.

Park says the images of blue skies and clouds "refer to the experience of traveling through San Francisco, whose topography often brings surprising vistas of sky into the city as though one's focus were elevated above the horizon line." She adds, "The title Sight Plan also suggests an idea of keeping focus above the immediate fray of life, as the subtle shifts of the cloudscapes signal a passage of time and circumstances."

The exhibition runs through February 18.

By Patti Witten