Section: Arts

A new year, a new beginning for beloved Caples elevator

A new year, a new beginning for beloved Caples elevator

By India Amos

In the past, when the Caples Residence Hall elevator’s doors opened, students found themselves face to face with a menagerie of fish and other aquatic creatures, including a purple, painted octopus affectionately named “Marcel.”

This underwater-themed elevator was designed and initially painted in November 2008 by Daisy Linden ’09. However, Maintenance workers mistook her mural for graffiti and painted over it while the school was closed for Thanksgiving break that year. It wasn’t until February 2009 that Linden and Jack Goldenberg ’09 painted the mural that featured the famous “Marcel.” Since the mural’s debut, graffiti took its natural course on the elevator’s walls.

However, this summer, a Caples custodial staff worker who noticed the graffiti put in a work order for the elevator to be repainted. There was a misunderstanding about how Maintenance was to address this type of  vandalism, according to Manager of Facility Services Gary Sweeney. “The work order went through, nobody understanding it was a protected mural,” he said.

caples elevator 1
The former Caples elevator mural
The new Caples elevator, with the mural painted over.

Maintenance’s policy regarding “protected murals” in residence halls states that they cannot do any altering work to murals and paintings within the residence halls without obtaining permission from an Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life (AD).

AD Lisa Train was one of the mural’s fans. Train said she was in shock when she and fellow AD Scott Gill-Jacobson gave a tour to new Housing and Residential Life staff members and found that the elevator, newly painted purple and white, was a shadow of its former self.

“We were in Caples, and as the elevator door opens,” Train said, “I went to be like, ‘Let me introduce you to Marcel.’ And the door opened, and it was just a white wall. I freaked out the new people.”

But new bits of graffiti are already popping up. despite the fresh coat of paint Train mentioned options for the presently unimpressive elevator, but explained that these plans are still tentative. “We’re kind of waiting for Housing and Dining to get together and figure out … what to do from here,” she said.

Both Train and Phoebe Roe ’16,  a staff writer for the Collegian and chair of the Housing and Dining Committee, feel there should be campus-wide input on the new mural. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure people see what’s going up before it goes up,” Roe said.

While Train and Roe favor another mural, Sweeney disagrees. “My professional opinion is it should not be a mural, simply because it’s too likely that it can be defaced,” he said. “If it’s going to be a piece of art, I would prefer it not to be something that could be defaced.”

Despite high hopes about possibilities for the elevator’s future, some of Marcel’s fans still feel a twinge of nostalgia. “I miss Marcel,” Train said. “I’ll never forget the moment when the door opened and Scott and I stood there with our mouths hanging open.”


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