As part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration, the University of South Carolina Upstate commissioned a commemorative mural and it is catching a lot of attention along a major corridor in downtown Spartanburg. The 50th Anniversary mural marks a significant part of the USC Upstate’s history while providing a visual voice that the university remains youthful, energetic and cutting edge.
“I cannot be more excited to have the University of South Carolina Upstate mural featured in downtown Spartanburg,” said Chancellor Brendan Kelly. “This amazing artwork encapsulates the history of USC Upstate, its strong reputation of serving as a critical force in fulfilling regional and state workforce needs, and its brilliant future ahead.”
The mural spans the entire wall of Gallery East, located at 512 East Main Street just a block away from the intersection of East Main Street and Pine Street.
“I am eternally grateful to Jason Hiltabiddle for providing such a prominent location for USC Upstate to share its remarkable story,” said Kelly. “This is just the beginning of how USC Upstate intends to approach deliberate storytelling and branding.”
The mural focuses primarily on themes of education, growth, vitality and strength, which permeate the design in a multitude of ways, on both literal and symbolic levels.
“This allows it to capture the values of the institution’s character and mission, while simultaneously allowing it to stand freely as a unique and cohesive piece of fine art,” said Russell Bannan, a graduate of USC Upstate and co-owner of Bannan Blasko LLC, a public art and design focused media company that designed and painted the mural.
Compositionally, the mural is strategically designed to lead the viewer’s eye from left to right. Because of this, imagery from early in the school’s history is placed at left, visually the “beginning” of the piece, and more contemporary imagery is placed at right.
“In this way, a longer viewing experience should be punctuated by seeing the
Upstate logo within a robust visual backdrop before walking away. Likewise, someone passing by quickly in a vehicle or on foot will be drawn to the area of the mural housing the USC Upstate logo,” explained Eli Blasko, co-owner of Bannan Blasko LLC. Find on Facebook and Instagram
The artistic talent of Bannan and Blasko can be found throughout including “There’s only one. Spartanburg” mural and the popular “Love Where You Live” mural that the two worked with other artists to create. They have also painted the crosswalks at Liberty and East Main Streets and completed several sculptural murals for Drayton Mills Loft Apartments.
With 6,000 students, more than 1,000 employees and nearly 30,000 alumni who live in the area, the USC Upstate 50th Anniversary mural is sure to become a popular destination for photos and institutional pride.
USC Upstate expresses great appreciation to the following for their assistance with the mural:
- Jason Hiltabiddle, owner of Gallery East
- Steve Fincher of Fincher Photography
- Wild Birds Unlimited
- The Art Lounge
Explaining the symbolism in the mural:
The present location of the USC Upstate campus is on land once owned by Henry Gramling who used the land as a peach orchard and soybean farm. In 1967, the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education acquired 22 acres of land from Mr. Gramling for $100,000 and he donated 27 acres for the establishment of a new campus, which now includes 300 acres.
The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains can often be seen from the USC Upstate campus.
Since 2008 USC Upstate has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. USC Upstate is also home to the 12-acre Susan Jacobs Arboretum that is a place of serene natural beauty. It features a 300-seat amphitheater, lighted walkways, foliage indigenous to the area, and rows of Nuttall Oak trees defining the north quadrangle. A meandering creek lined with stones and boulders completes this tranquil setting.
Prior to 2004, the University was named University of South Carolina Spartanburg and its mascot was The Rifles, which paid homage to the Revolutionary War history of the Upstate of South Carolina. On July 1, 2004, the name was changed to University of South Carolina Upstate to signal a new era of academic expansion to Greenville, tremendous growth, qualitative improvements and economic impact across the I-85 corridor. The mascot was changed to Sparty to maintain a connection to the original name and commitment to the Spartanburg community.
The Spartanburg Regional Campus of the University of South Carolina opened on September 18, 1967 at Spartanburg General Hospital. Student enrollment was 177 of which 36 were nursing majors.
The university was founded when Spartanburg General Hospital (now Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System) announced plans to close its nursing education program, which would create a dire nursing shortage for Spartanburg County. A drop shadow creates a three-dimensional quality to the image, and visually brings the portrait forward to emphasize its importance as a historical symbol for the university.
The Gold Dome sits atop the John C. Stockwell Administration Building, which is the first building erected on the campus in 1969. It is a gleaming iconic university symbol that has remained unchanged since the Spartanburg Regional Campus (now USC Upstate) was officially dedicated on April 17, 1970.
The South Carolina General Assembly passed Act No. 36 on February 16, 1967 to establish the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education to undertake the creation of a university campus in Spartanburg. USC Upstate is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
The University is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
This Spartan symbol represents the USC Upstate Spartans athletic teams. Sparty is the USC Upstate mascot.
Spartan Strong, a slogan of support for USC Upstate, conveys the unique strength and resiliency that allows an Upstate Spartan to carry on no matter the situation. The phrase was initially coined in October 2015 as words of encouragement and unity for University community upon the death of four student-athletes.
Nearly 30,000 students have earned their degrees from USC Upstate. About 85 percent of the alumni choose to remain in the Upstate to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact on the region’s economy and quality of life.
The diploma scroll signifies the successful attainment of degrees.
The globe pays tribute to USC Upstate’s diverse and dynamic community of about 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate’s rich international character. Home to more than one million people and boasting the highest per capita international investment of any county in the nation, the Upstate region provides boundless academic, professional, and cultural outlets for students to develop skills and establish meaningful connections.