RU art student creates new downtown Blacksburg mural


Artist Ellen Morris talks about her new mural in downtown Blacksburg, the first one of that size she has ever created.

Downtown Blacksburg Inc. (DBI), the Moss Arts Center and artist Ellen Morris Friday introduced a new mural at 208 N. Main St. designed to welcome Virginia Tech students back to Blacksburg and to encourage folks to come downtown.

Morris graduated with her BA from Bridgewater College in 2014 and is currently studying for her Master of Fine Arts degree in graphic design at Radford University. As a creative professional, she says she is passionate about seizing every opportunity to learn and to challenge herself. She aims to continue her career as a graphic designer with the goal of teaching higher education.

Morris is a member of the Blacksburg Regional Art Association (BRAA), and her design submission was selected by a committee when DBI put a call out to the BRAA this past spring.

The theme of her mural, which took her about a month and a half to complete and is the largest she has ever attempted, is ‘Live Fully” in Blacksburg, Va.

“The committee wanted something uplifting to welcome the students back,” she said. “I wanted something colorful to help brighten up downtown.”

Morris accomplished that with her mural, which features bright yellows, blues and reds with the yellows alternating with orange streaks to suggest the sun rising over the mountains in the mural’s background.

“With everyone having to isolate this summer, I wanted my design to reflect a positive and uplifting message,” Morris said. “Being able to walk downtown and enjoy the fresh air is something we’re all going to be more grateful for now, and I hope this mural will make that experience even more enjoyable.

“One of the most rewarding parts of this opportunity was to see how grateful and supportive Blacksburg residents have been,” Morris said. “A quick ‘Good job!’ or ‘Looks great!’ from people passing by really made this experience worth it.”

This mural was orchestrated by DBI to promote creative place-making and was co-sponsored by The Moss Arts Center.

“It is my hope that this new creative place-making addition will encourage folks to get downtown,” said Casey Jenkins, executive director of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. “I believe this mural will add to the vibrancy and vitality of downtown Blacksburg and complement the visioning and place-making plans steered by the Town of Blacksburg. Additionally, this is a great piece to welcome our beloved students back while contributing to the dynamic environment of downtown that so many call home.”

The Moss Arts Center supported the project by sponsoring Morris’ commission of $1,000.