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This exhibit catalogs many of the individual items on the mural "Man's Evolving Images, Printing and Writing" created by artist James Sicner and displayed in the Coates Library at Trinity University.

Creating a digital gallery of the mural images has been a goal for many years. Thanks to the Mellon Summer Research Fellows Program and the hard work of student researcher Peyton Tvrdy (Trinity '20), the project finally had the love and attention it needed.

After spending the entirety of Summer 2020 working on the mural project, it was clear that cataloging all of the items included in the mural collage may be a near impossible task. In an article from 1981, James Sicner indicated that he planned to incorporate approximately 800 individual items in the entire mural (front and back)1. We concentrated our efforts on the front of the mural and by the end of Summer 2020 researched, identified, cataloged and digitized over 100 items.

Many times, we thought we had seen everything on the front of the mural – using digital images to zoom in and out of the various areas – but then, as if out of nowhere, we would notice something else for the first time. Sometimes these late finds would be small but sometimes they would be quite large – right there – waiting to be discovered. Items blend just ever so subtly into others so that it is difficult to recognize these nuances that Mr. Sicner so carefully designed.

Deconstructing the mural in this way may seem counter to Mr. Sicner's original intent, but we feel that this process actually enhances the enjoyment of the mural. For every unique image we noticed and identified we gained a greater appreciation for Mr. Sicner's artistic eye and felt more connected to the piece. We hope you will have a similar experience.

Some of the original artwork that was used to create the mural has been identified and included in the individual items. Where able, links to various images located in national museums, galleries, collections, and public domain sites are included for reference. Mr. Sicner created every item on the mural using another piece of art, photo, book illustration, etching, woodcut, etc. Not all items were easily identifiable and not all original sources were found.

The mural is an icon at Trinity University. Most who see it feel connected to it in some way. We hope this project furthers those connection so that current students, alumni, visitors, faculty, and staff can enjoy it at any time. Hopefully, you will discover something new and interesting when viewing the online gallery.

We'd also like to invite you to help us continue to identify items, find corresponding original artwork, and correct any oversights or mistakes we made. Please email Elizabeth Poff (epoff@trinity.edu) if you want to contribute to this project.

This exhibit was created by Mellon Summer Research Fellow, Peyton Tvrdy (Trinity '20) with the help of Digital Technologies Librarian and Mellon Mentor, Elizabeth Poff.

Peyton Tvrdy and Elizabeth Poff on Zoom

Special thanks to:

University Archivist Abra Schnur for helping find the fantastic audio interview and for providing us with copies of some of the original negatives from when James Sicner worked on the mural.

Special Collections Librarian Colleen Hoelscher for helping us find photos of James Sicner.

Library Reference Assistant Erika James for sharing her display photos and mural history with us, and for taking photos of the mural.

Digital Technology Coordinator Donna Kaminski for taking photos of the mural, and for helping research some of the very hard to find Maya art.

Associate Professor of Religion and Director of the Mellon Initiative Dr. Chad Spigel for translating a piece of the mural. 

Manager of Access Services Jason Hardin for taking videos/photos of the mural.


1. San Antonio Express, Sports Final ed., 29 Nov. 1981, p. 192. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=WORLDNEWS&docref=image/v2%3A10EEA20F1A545758%40WHNPX-16307F1078179074%402444938-16302B1E15FA8003%40191. Accessed 23 June 2020.