New mural by Mab Moon ’21 and Alex Maxwell ’24 brings awareness to The Institute

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Friday, January 5th, 2024

When the College moved some of its operations this fall into a space on North Prince Street near campus, there was nothing to distinguish it from the outside as a place of creativity, exploration, art-making — or, really, anything related to Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. 

Mab Moon ’21, Fine Art, poses across from The Institute on North Prince Street.

The location, just a few blocks from PCA&D’s campus, serves as an extension of College life. It houses many Graphic Design senior studios, as well as PCA&D’s Institute for Leadership, Creative Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, which focuses on developing our partnership with Rock Lititz, and the UK-based Academy of Live Technology (ALT). Soon, PCA&D’s Career Services Department will be housed there as well. 

With all that important activity on site, it was important to give the building an identity that stood out. Large windows that faced over Prince Street directly across from the historic Fulton Theatre, and above the bustling Prince Street Café, were a prime spot to make PCA&D’s mark. That’s where Mab Moon ’21, Fine Art, comes into the picture — literally. 

Moon’s work may be familiar to anyone who spends time walking around downtown Lancaster, gazing at painted window designs and murals. The College, she says, “reached out to (her) directly … familiar with my work from my time at the school and from my experience of doing window murals for galleries and shops downtown.”

For this project, she says, “I was given a mock-up of the final design and used that as my guideline while I painted. I paint in reverse so that I am able to be inside while I work, and the glass on the outside provides a glossy finish.

That mock-up of the final design was inspired by a piece by current PCA&D student Alex Maxwell. 

“I found some pictures of campus buildings that I had taken and brought them into Illustrator,” says Maxwell, a Graphic Design senior. “My inspiration was classic doodles. I wanted to keep it simple and not too busy so I went with simple shapes and the PCA&D colors.” 

Moon then took the design inspired by Maxwell’s work and began to tranform the windows overlooking one of the city’s busiest corners. 

“For window murals it is very important to use a lot of layers of acrylic paint to make the color opaque, and then I finished with a base of warm white on the back to complete the opacity, and create a unified undertone for the piece.”

Working solo, Moon says, the project took about 16 hours spread out over four days.

Inspired by the surrounding cityscape, Moon’s mural now brands the space in the College’s red, blue, and yellow. 

“The window painting adds a playful touch to the new space — both for those of us looking out and especially for passersby and theater-goers,” says Jason Hartz, Steinman Dean of The Institute. “I think it also cleverly announces that PCA&D is up to something and generates curiosity.”

You can see more of Mab Moon’s work on Instagram at @mabmoon, and at her Inprnt gallery here

The Institute now is a PCA&D presence on North Prince Street, thanks to a mural by Mab Moon ’21, Fine Art.