Loyola Magazine

Students add color to Classics department lounge

Inspired by their major field of study, students bring campus space to life

Loyola’s Classics department lounge provides a warm, inviting atmosphere for students to study, find resources and references for Classics courses, gather for lunch, or sit on the couch and talk about their next Latin exam.

Thanks to a group of Classics majors and minors, the lounge has been transformed into a personal and decorated space with hand-painted murals, columns, and Loyola’s own take on Raphael’s famous School of Athens painting.

A group of students, many who are members of the Classics Club and generally spend a lot of time in the Classics department and the lounge during the week, decided this fall to paint the walls of the lounge with images inspired by their area of study.

Led by senior Natalie Tsottles, the group—which included first-year student Caraline Winch, sophomores Kelly Mueller and Alexander Akers, and juniors Rebecah Swerdlow, Joshua Ziesel, and Mark Welch—brought the idea of the project to Martha Taylor, Ph.D., professor of Classics and department chair.

The students purchased art supplies and began their project after their last classes before Loyola’s Fall Break. The finished lounge was revealed to the rest of the department when classes resumed.

Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns were painted next to the doors, a personalized version of Raphael’s School of Athens can be seen on the left wall of the study cubby, and floral bands trim the walls.

“Natalie and Kelly brought the idea (to paint the walls red and paint other Classics imagery) to Dr. Taylor, but the School of Athens mural was Rebeccah’s idea, and we thought we could make it more personal by including professors and students,” Winch said.

“Many other things, such as the columns, tragedy and comedy masks, Oedipus mural, the SPQR, the gladiator helmet, and the Greek names of the Muses were all added during the last couple days we painted the lounge,” she said.

Although there was some informal plan, the group’s final decision was to be spontaneous and unprompted.

“Our only plan was to ‘upgrade’ the lounge with a fresh coat of paint, and all the murals were a result of our enthusiasm for the project,” said Winch.

“The red color of the walls gives the lounge a Pompeian feel, and the columns make the cozy space of the lounge even better,” said Taylor.

“The paintings are terrifically clever, especially the way that the artists inserted the members of the department into their version of Raphael’s School of Athens. The professors and students have attributes that make them recognizable, just like the Greek and Roman gods are often recognizable in artwork because of the attributes they carry (Zeus has a thunderbolt, Demeter has a sheaf of wheat, etc.),” she explained.

“All the professors and students in the department are delighted and impressed,” Taylor said of the students’ work.

“Students of all grades, from seniors to first-years, participated in the painting (which they organized all on their own and carried out in secret), and that demonstrates the sense of community we have in the department. Students are in the lounge all day long, studying and hanging out, and the painting they’ve done just underscores that it is their place on campus.”

Photos by Brigid Hamilton.