Victoria Saunders '20 Paints Murals to Communicate Sustainability
Galloway, N.J. - In the barren months before Stockton University's Sustainable Farm has come to life, Victoria Saunders ‘20 reminds students that hard work pays off with visual messages painted on a shipping container that stores farm supplies.
“The second it landed, I said I need to paint that big, ugly container. I need to make it beautiful with bright animations of the plants, bugs and pollinators so that it will be a reminder of what’s to come when the farm is still bare.”
Her hope is that students, exhausted from the rigors of farm work, will look up, see the artwork and be re-energized knowing what is yet to come.
The mural, full of painted stories, was paused by COVID-19, but Saunders can’t wait to return to complete the finishing touches. Her hope is to create a “lasting art installation that brings joy, educates and inspires.”
A pollinator scene shows bees and butterflies flying through produce. “The butterfly is for my grandma,” she said.
Saunders recalled her grandmother’s pretzel containers filled with milkweed and caterpillars. “She always raised butterflies and spent time outdoors in her garden,” she added.
A scene featuring garlic bulbs “is a homage to a seven-year long study taking place on the farm to determine which garlic variety thrives and can be the most profitable in South Jersey’s climate.”
Another side of the container is Saunders’s creative take on the 1970 Funkadelic album cover that channels the flower power and free-spirited energy that has been on campus since it opened that year. She replicated the woman with outstretched arms out of vegetables.
Since graduating, Saunders has been an essential worker for Bob’s Garden Center and The Tree Man tree service working seven days a week with a few odd days off. She has infused her sustainability edge and artistic talents by looking at her work through an environmental lens.
She connects Galloway tree removals with the Stockton Farm to facilitate wood chip deliveries that can be used as weed suppressant between the rows of produce.
Instead of shredding legal documents, she creates pulp bricks from the paper to use in composting.
At Bob’s Garden Center, she’s painting a butterfly mural so that customers can stand in front of it to wear wings and pose for photos. The mural is part of an outdoor celebration of Pollinator Week June 22-28.
A preview of the pollinator scene at Bob's Garden Center.
Bob’s has been open during the pandemic, and Saunders has worked to help people turn their homes and gardens into beautiful sanctuaries during a time when people are spending more time at home than ever before.
In addition, she is helping them to produce their own food to minimize trips to the grocery store.
“It’s been busy, but so rewarding. People are coming in because they are trying to grow food and it’s heartwarming. It’s the best part of my day,” she said.
Before choosing Sustainability, Saunders was studying Business and Economics. Something was missing until Oliver Cooke, associate professor of Economics, encouraged her to take Ecological Economics. “That was it,” said Saunders.
After taking that class, she found that she could blend her interests in the outdoors, environment, art and business through the Sustainability Program with a minor in Economics.
There is so much work to be done locally, and changing the world starts small,” she said.
For updates on Saunders’s artwork, follow @HerbJelly_Arts on Instagram.