Below are articles featuring Borderline muralists from various years. Find out the
stories behind their
Mural by Dipo Doherty G. Post by Sky Gordon.
Scale and community impact drew Dipo to mural painting. Finding beauty in spatial geometry, nature, mathematics and machines, Dipo channeled these influences into his art. He finds art important and special in its ability to critique society through a cultural lens and provide the artist with the freedom of expression, and the potential to be a synthesizer of many disciplines.
In his piece for the Banana lounge, Dipo was inspired by “the energy and interactions with students in the lounge, the geometry of bananas, and push and pull of various available colors.” As he simply remarked, “It was an organic approach.”
Mural by Anqi Li '23. Post by Margaret Zheng.
An incredibly talented artist from Singapore, Anqi believes that "the power of art lies in how the amalgamation of strokes in an artwork has this remarkable way to touch us indelibly and make us feel whole again... it is an intangible, visual reflection of the human condition," an idea that many of her artworks embrace. Anqi finds inspiration everywhere, from conversations with her peers to graffiti to gallery visits as well as her most prized possession: a "really, really (and by that I mean really) thick book of illustrations that my art teacher gifted me before I left for college." Although the book "took up so much luggage space," she would still like to "think it was worth all that trouble lugging it halfway across the globe."
Around Valentine’s Day of 2019, Anqi was given an opportunity to hold a solo art exhibition in Singapore. After visiting many local exhibitions, she wished to bring a special light to the community with her art and let her exhibition be a "reminder of the hope that can carry us through these trying times." Among her results was an acrylic painting of crushed cans. "I had a lot - probably too much - fun with that piece. In the haze of my sugar rush from drinking way too many cans of soft drink, I smashed them with a hammer. It was an oddly therapeutic process, for sure."
Although "crushed" objects may often suggest an underlying mood of disappointment, Anqi managed to make her painting of crushed cans joyous with splashes of colors in the background, by which she had "hoped to convey a feeling of jest and liveliness in my painting of the crushed cans."
"Something felt missing in the painting though - there seemed to be capacity to extend the metaphor so that the meaning behind the painting would be more explicit." Finally, Anqi found her breakthrough after a conversation with an artist who visited her exhibition. "We talked about highlighting this idea of 'crushed' in the painting, by introducing some darker tones to contrast with the vibrant colors of the cans - adding more shadows perhaps, or something else. I made several quick sketches after my conversation with him and chanced upon the idea of creating a tower of crushed cans that will cast a shadow of a pensive, dejected person. I wanted this person to eventually morph into being triumphant, but I didn’t really know how to incorporate that into my static piece."
"Borderline and the concept of animating murals was the last piece of this puzzle. I haven’t gotten around to animating my mural yet, but the concept is to transform the shadow of the man into someone triumphant; a same object can cast multiple shadows of different shapes, just like how there are many different outlooks we can have on life. I think part of the reason why I enjoy art is kind of reflected in my journey of conceptualizing and painting this mural. As my art teacher loved to say, there is never a completed artwork. I really enjoy this process of gathering ideas and inspirations from all around and weaving them into a story."
Mural by Margaret Zheng '23. Post by Gloria Lin.
"[Emojis] are a more efficient way to express [feelings] than words because a simple face or symbol could represent different layers of emotions and messages ... I wonder, what would be the first thought that comes to different individuals' minds when they come across a somewhat ambiguous picture containing emojis?" This inquiry inspired Margaret's intentionally ambiguous mural, Emoji Hourglass. To the artist herself, the piece "implies that the passage of time can transform objects with no emotions into those that are full of vibrant emotions and memories."
"Somewhat to my surprise, though, everyone I asked has given me an entirely different answer when I asked for their first impression of this painting. Some said 'this is literally my mood at MIT,' some said 'time can determine and constrain who we are,' and one person even said the emotionless 'emojis' reminded him of the coolness of orange juice. Learning from those incredibly diverse and interesting perspectives has opened my eyes to so many ideas that I wouldn't even have thought of, and that to me is the most special part of this mural."
For Margaret, art is both a platform to connect individuals and a means for introspection. She draws inspiration "not just from reference pictures, but from deep inside [herself]." Margaret's art is a realization onto canvas of the world around her, portraying unique perspectives, feelings, and life events. Margaret enjoys giving out artwork as personalized gifts to friends and loved ones, as she is "beyond happy" to make their days a little brighter. Margaret also likes to share her artwork via Instagram and her personal website, with the hope to "spread positivity to even more individuals in my communities and around the globe."
Margaret adds, "Especially during times of unprecedented crisis, fine arts of all forms could bring the world a little more empathy and reinstate a little more hope." Her original animation and composition for the poem Lockdown is a beautiful example of this.
Mural by Jocelin Su '23. Post by Gloria Lin.
"Even through all the technological and cultural advances of the ages, nature has always been beautiful to the human eye." In her mural Succulent Mineral, Jocelin explores the connection between "two differing parts of nature-- the organic and inorganic-- in a fun and unexpected way." She explains, "It was cool to imagine a succulent growing straight out of the crystals of a geode, as if life could pop out of nothing but cold hard rock. I hope this image also serves as a reminder of how precious the natural world is, and how important it is to sustain it."
Jocelin enjoys art as a way to bring an idea to fruition, create something beautiful, and add a pop of brightness to the world with just some colors and strokes. According to Jocelin, "art is fascinating because it can be so many things. A pure expression of beauty, or a way to tell a story, or an abstract exploration of ideas. Sometimes I find myself staring at a piece and not wanting to tear my eyes away, because it is so exquisite or interesting. Art offers an avenue to look at things in a different perspective, and that is especially important in today's world." She is inspired by nature, good character designs and portraits, and Impressionists like Monet and Matisse.
Mural by Gloria Lin '21. Post by Sky Gordon.
KoiQueen’s name came out of a moment of coincidence. As a title that once represented one Gloria’s vertices in her 6.006 pset, it soon became the title of her work that resides in the Banana Lounge. A fitting place that straddles the line between relaxation and problem sets for a piece whose name does the same.
According to Gloria, she was “inspired by the calm feeling that washes over students in the Banana Lounge nap area, a place where we can pause to take a breath, momentarily forgetting about psets and deadlines.”
Gloria enjoys art because it's an outlet to express thoughts and feelings and escape the daily stresses of life. She remarked, “It's really liberating and satisfying to be able to create anything you can imagine.”
Mural by Ester Shmulyian '19. Post by Lisa Peng.
Having grown up around NYC, Ester developed a deep appreciation of mural art and public art. She likes walking around the city to mural hunt and see how the landscape is changing every day. Open up the Artivive App on your mobile and point the camera at Ester's picture below to hear her speak about why she finds art important!
She has also been very involved in sharing her love of public art through CITYarts, a program whose mission is to "engage youth with professional artists in the creation of public art, including murals and mosaic. Through this creative process, CITYarts empowers, educates, and connects youth and children locally and around the world to become active participants in realizing their potential and transforming communities."
Now she's leaving her mark on the walls of MIT. The idea for her mural, "That Way," was originally inspired by
a recent trip to France, where she kept getting lost and kept asking strangers for directions. Ester thought
that since people seem to have a similar experience in the tunnels, this piece would be perfect here! She also
liked incorporating the big red button in her mural. Who knows what it does?
Fun Fact: As Ester was painting one day, Amelia, an MIT aeroastro student, happened to walk by and ended up painting one of the hands!
Mural by Isabel Munoz '22. Post by Lisa Peng.
Isa's design went through a challenging revision process to fit the space, but she's very happy with the final design, and is excited to see someone animate her firebird mural in the future. She'd like to see some flames engulfing the dandelion seeds or lighting them on fire!
Isa's art is very inspired by nature. She likes drawing outside, looking at birds and animals, and working to
upbeat music. Art is a way for her to relax and it's a way of expression for her.
She wants to encourage everyone to come down to the tunnels to see the paintings for themselves because all the
murals show something about the people that made it. That's the magic of art.
Isa would like to thank Jessica Xu and Sabrina Hare for pushing her to paint for Borderline!
Mural by Elaine Xiao '22. Post by Lisa Peng.
Elaine has been doing art since she was 5 years old. You can really tell she has a passion for it by the way she talks about it. Elaine enjoys art because when she's just painting, nothing else matters. It's just her, and the painting. She likes to work for long periods of time, where she forgets the rest of the world and gets absorbed in her work. Art is Elaine's outlet for stress relief, so it's an integral part of her routine. She thinks art is important because it has the power to make people feel things. You can make people feel better, and feel a wide range of emotions in general.
For this mural, Elaine wanted to paint doves and study them in an attempt to understand her irrational fear of birds. She loves what birds symbolize afterall- freedom and weightlessness.
Mural by Valentino Sudaryo '19. Post by Lisa Peng.
Last summer, Valentino visited Komodo National Park in his home country, Indonesia, and was intrigued when looking at Komodo Dragons (the largest living lizards in the world by the way!). Valentino was immediately inspired to make art about these giant reptiles and started sketching out ideas the month before Borderline applications were sent out. Valentino has been at MIT since the project's beginning, and wanted to get involved before he graduated.
Valentino didn't want to make the mural realistic and instead chose to use a Batik style. Batik is an old Indonesian fabric dyeing technique that's more commonly referred to nowadays as patterns like those that appear in "Komodo Dragon" and Valentino's own shirt (pictured below). He also incorporated Indonesia's national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), into the mural. The result is a piece that's rich with many aspects of Indonesian culture and art.
Valentino has had no formal background in art, and has just recently picked it up through youtube tutorials.
We're really excited to see his work in the tunnels now!
Valentino would like to thank his helper Luz Gomez for helping him work with the limited space between the railings and with painting!
Mural by Sarah Dohadwala '21. Post by Danny Gelman.
Once, Sarah saw a real chameleon and decided to paint one. Her mural is the result of this spontaneous fascination with this creature, upon seeing it for the first time in real life. She wanted to paint this mural as a way to continue practicing art, as she has done a lot of traditional art in high school. She plans to take art-related classes at MIT.
She had two sources of inspiration for this piece. The first is the already completed murals in the Tunnels
<3. The second is her art-spiration Agnes Cecile, who Sarah says "can make a bunch of splatters that she has
no control over into art."
Fun Fact: Sarah wears a ridiculously large career fair t-shirt as an apron!
Mural and Animation by Jude He '21. Post by Allan Gelman.
Jude has been drawing since she could walk, and drawing is still an integral part of her life today. She believes art is a visual way to tell stories that can make people feel things. For Jude, art is therefore the most basic form of connection.
Jude also really likes the intersection of science and art, and likes to negotiate the relationship between the two. Art can sometimes be organic, but often times can be technical, rational, and analytical. Jude is also interested in "cross-sections, especially with unexpected insides," which is what drew her to designing, painting, and animating "Split." She is inspired by the work of Rebecca Mock, Jasmin Lai, Noelle Stevenson, and editorial illustrators.
Mural by Maya Levy '21. Post by Jessica Xu.
Coming from thirty generations of Italian artists, Maya Levy is no stranger to art. Maya relates that when she was only three years old, her grandmother sat her down in front of a bowl of fruit and said, "draw." For Find your Adventure in the Borderline tunnel, Maya wanted to leave a mark on MIT and bring a piece of her hometown, Aventura. A small section of Miami, Aventura's symbol is a sailboat, as Maya depicted in her mural.
From making a timelapse video of painting a mural for her college applications, to painting sets for campus group performances such as the Hamlet production, Maya has quite a bit of mural painting experience under her belt. She particularly enjoys public art, as more people can see it and it makes a greater impact.
Maya finds inspiration in Made You Look, a YouTube makeup artist that does body art. She believes art is incredibly important at MIT as it provides a relief from stress. She hopes that Borderline will have the opportunity to expand all over campus!
Mural by Fiona Zhang '19. Post by Jessica Xu.
On cold, windy Boston days, MIT tunnels often provide respite for students wishing to travel between buildings without going outdoors. For passersby with attentive eyes, six adorable cacti wait to be discovered throughout the Borderline tunnel, offering free hugs and encouragement.
Painted by Arizona native Fiona Zhang, the cacti vary in form, expression, and style. Many of the cacti are incorporated creatively into the styles of other Borderline murals, such as Marwa's Bouken and Helen's Stop and Smell the Roses. For these cacti, Fiona was inspired by her home state, Arizona. "Nothing warms me up more than a piece of home giving me some encouragement," she said.
Art is an outlet and a welcome break from "thinking about math all day" for Fiona. "Nothing is better than watching my work come to life. The ability to create something beautiful out of raw materials is fascinating." She describes her creative process as "done on the spot." "99% of the time I have no idea what I am going to create before I do it," she said.
Mural by Rachel Wu '19. Post by Danny Gelman.
Rachel sat down and thought to herself, "what is the most cliche art thing I can think of?" And she came. up with water and lily pads. But not the classic Monet lilies. Her piece depicts a silhouette swimming underwater towards giant floating lily pads.
Instead of searching and forcing to come up with ideas, she waits for the ideas to come to her. She strives to
make work that is beautiful, has colors that work wonderfully together, and surreal. Her favorite artists are
yuumei and aquasixio because of how well they create the type of work she wants to make. Rachel very wholesomely
said, "The world needs more beautiful things - art is pure. It makes the world love."
Rachel would like to thank Julia Fiksinski '20 for helping to paint Lilies!
Mural and Animation by Khanh Nguyen '19. Post by Danny Gelman.
Khanh has not had too much formal art experience prior to coming to MIT. The semester she worked on this mural, she was taking 21M.601 Drawing for Designers. She also painted a Hubweek mural.
Khanh believes that everyone has a creative side, and you just need to develop it by making creative things, like art. Art is a very important outlet, especially at such a technical place like MIT, so it's really important not to forsake it. Khanh's art making process is very bold and daring, as she doesn't sketch anything out beforehand. Instead she just goes for it! She doesn't like to be constricted by lines and wants the process to guide her final product.
Mural and Animation by Jessica Xu '21. Post by Danny Gelman.
"L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." -Fox from The Little Prince
Jessica really likes The Little Prince, a popular French children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In the book, Fox imparts some wisdom to the Little Prince: "Here is my secret...It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." The words in her mural, beautifully written, is the last part of the quote written in French.
Jessica strives to make art that gets people thinking about an idea or a concept in a new and interesting way. In this case, that's this beautiful quote that points to the importance of empathy and the heart. Jessica also made an animation for her mural which highlights the story elements from The Little Prince, including a blooming rose, glowing words, and orbiting asteroid.
Whenever Jessica finds something interesting, she'll bookmark it for inspiration. One of her favorite artists is David Caspar Friedrich, whose atmospheric artwork inspires her.
She also really loves how art can act as a bridge. In particular, she is very interested in the connection between humans, art, and technology, which she explored in AP Studio Art 2D Design and now through getting involved in Borderline. Also, kudos to Jessica for painting her mural while being on crutches.
Mural by Patricia Gao '21. Post by Danny Gelman.
As many artists discover their passion, Patricia discovered her love for art by doodling over exams and homework. Patricia really likes that art can have many different meanings. People can get inspired or moved by a piece of work in a completely different way than Patricia intended and that's really cool.
Patricia's inspiration for her work is music, Van Gogh, and Picasso. Her piece draws from songs she listens to. She makes her work very visually busy, just as Van Gogh, so no one gets bored while looking at it. And she strives to make people contemplate and maybe even be confused over her work, just as people usually get over Picasso's abstract work. Her piece, "Musicians 3," is definitely all of those things, but also uniquely something entirely new and different.
Fun fact: Patricia also took part in painting a similar mural at her high school in Provo, Utah (pictured below), so now it's connected to MIT!
Mural by Helen He '20. Post by Iris Fung.
Helen has never painted before. Which blows. My. Mind. She has only worked with pens, pencil, and digital art before. Her style is also usually has more realism. Her subject matter is similar to her past work though: she's drawn a lot of people and faces.
She wants people walking past to feel relaxed, and not feel bad about pausing to chill every once in a while. Helen found stress-relief in art, and kept it as a self-taught side hobby. She knew the minute she formalized things - took lessons, or entered competitions, etc. - art would lose its de-stressing abilities. She hopes others can find their own ways to destress.
The bright yellow on the soft blues were actually picked based on what paints were already poured out and available. This is super neat because it's as if other murals were integrated in the tiniest way into this one!
Mural by Jasmine Quigley. Post by Iris Fung.
Taking a break from flowers and calming forests, we get two dragons duking it out on a piece of cliff. You can feel the tension between the two. This mural is meant to embody protection and perseverance against terrible odds. This is Jasmine's first time painting in this style. Typically, she likes to paint plant life - for the tunnels, however, she wanted to create something striking that would make passer-byers pause. She hasn't had any formal art training, but perhaps that's made her more creative on how she gets her paint down, using both paintbrushes and her fingers. When she's not painting, Jasmine likes to play rugby! She's joined the team at MIT and plays lock.
Mural by Jierui Fang '20. Post by Iris Fung.
Jierui is jamming out to Chinese love songs on Spotify when I find her in the tunnels. She's in her natural habitat, with an in-progress painting in front of her.
When she was a kid, she always wanted to paint her room. Her parents always said no. After much pestering, her
parents finally promised her that she'd get to paint her new room after they finished moving. When they finally
got settled in, however, all her parents got her was a quart sized can of orange that wouldn't even cover a full
wall. Jierui still doesn't have painted walls.
On this flipside, this is her chance to live out her dream! She'd never used latex paint before, so she started
with a simple pattern of cells. They're colored orange and blue: her favorite color and a common color cells are
drawn as. The cells curve in a way reminiscent of the power lines she saw driving down Texas highways. Near
evening, you would see thousands of birds sitting along the lines, who would then rise and fly away in a murmuration. The two birds in her mural
are flapping through the film of cells and breaking free. Jierui wants everyone to feel similarly happy and
Special thanks to Xialou G. and Pearl L.
Mural by Julia Rue '18. Post by Iris Fung.
Two kids sit on a hill, looking off into their imagination. This Banksy-esque mural tells the story of how this mural project came to be, as an introduction before visitors turn the corner.
Julia says that when she thinks of the word 'mural', she immediately thinks of street art, simple and quickly done. This contrasts with the last mural of the hallway, a credits mural purposefully placed and painstakingly slow to paint.
With the two kids, Julia manages to capture the childhood whimsy we all used to have. She's also captured the child-like attitude of The Borderline project - come have fun, create something beautiful, and share it with the world. The hill the kids are made from a pattern that will soon run all throughout the hallway, tying the murals together.
Mural by Jessie Wang '19. Post by Iris Fung.
- They swim backwards because they haven't evolved in, like, a million years.
- They swim by inhaling water and spitting it back out.
- When the inhale water, they add the salt from the water into their bloodstream. This gives them the requisite Na+ to allow their muscles to fire.
- The plural of nautilus is unknown to both Jessie and the author.
One of Jessie's favorite muralists is Etam Cru, a duo of artists from Poland. They have cool murals all over. One of their murals is of a chicken. It served as Jessie's main inspiration for her mural.
Once she saw a video of one of them painting a mural - he didn't sketch anything out on the wall, he just held his pencil sketch in one hand and a roller in the other. #goals
Jessie's process is a bit more intensive (and still just as magical). When I went to visit her while she was painting, I saw pictures taped up all around the edges. The central chicken in the pot is photo referenced, meaning at some point there was a chicken, probably sad, most definitely confused, floating in a pot in a body of water, quietly wondering how it had gotten in such a predicament. She also had a couple of digital sketches printed out. It was colored on Photoshop, but then underwent some filtering on Instagram until she found what she liked. #moderntechnology
The final result is a potpourri of items that don't have a clear connection, but something about the deliberateness of their combined oddity makes it feel like it should mean something.
I've had the joy and pleasure of working with Jessie on some other art projects, and I can say this mural stays true to her style. It has very confident strokes, and her signature mix of very cute and quite derpy in the subject matter. Her favorite part of the mural: "The nautilus eye came out real dank. It looks like it's staring at you."