San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Artist alumnus Hugo Crosthwaite Engages Students in Mural Performance Art

Artist alumnus Hugo Crosthwaite Engages Students in Mural Performance Art

April 16, 2018

Well known SDSU School of Art + Design alumnus and figurative artist Hugo Crosthwaite will visit campus May 19 and 20 to speak about his life and his work, and to lead illustration students through an interactive mural painting project.

Crosthwaite, who graduated from SDSU in 1997 with a degree in applied arts, is a native of Northern Baja, Mexico. At his presentation on April 19, Crosthwaite will discuss how his environment helped shape him into the artist he is today. He will also present an overview of his career, highlighting several of his more prominent works, discussing their origins, execution and the results. Though Crosthwaite has worked in various mediums, it’s his interactive mural projects that perhaps bring him the most notoriety.  

“I am not a conventional muralist,” said Croswaithe. “Part of my practice is presenting muralism as performance. I go to a public space, improvise a mural, and invite viewers to participate in the process. It is a communal experience.”

Crosthwaite will bring his collective mural painting process to SDSU on April 20 when he leads 22 illustration students through the creation of an “Exquisite Corpse” mural. With Crosthwaite acting as the creative facilitator, the group will improvise a mural with each student constructing an element of their own choosing to create the larger Exquisite Corpse. Students will add to the figure and to the narrative that is developing on the wall. Crosthwaite led a similar Exquisite Corpse mural with artists at MANA Contemporary Chicago in 2016 as part of PBS Art Assignment program. See link:

SDSU Illustration professor, Neil Shigley, has been a longtime admirer of Crosthwaite’s work, though they didn’t get to know one another until Crosthwaite’s show, “Word Balloons” at SDSU’s Downtown Gallery in 2015.  Shigley has been eager to bring Crosthwaite to campus for some time to discuss his work and to engage with students.

Getting Crosthwaite to campus is considered a real coup. He now divides his time among studios in Tijuana, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, and travels extensively all over the globe. “We are so fortunate to be able to get him here,” said Shigley. “It’s rare be in the presence of greatness in any field.  For the students, being able to have conversations with an artist of his caliber and watch him work is absolutely invaluable.”

Engaging with students is also exceptionally rewarding for Croswaithe, especially now. “Working with students always reminds me how important it is to open avenues of conversation with young people. We are seeing the failure of this today with the complete disconnect between U.S. government officials and politicians and the youth of our country,” said Croswaithe.”I grew up with this need for art that was never available to me and if I had seen an artist create a mural in front of me I would have been empowered to fight for my vocation and identity much earlier in life.”

Hugo Crosthwaite’s lecture on April 19 will take place in Storm Hall West, room 012 starting at 7:00 pm. It is free and open to the public.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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